Lexapro has been categorized as a category C drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Animal reproduction studies have shown that the use of the drug can lead to substantial harm to the fetus. Therefore, women who take Lexapro during pregnancy need to be particularly cautious. It can cause various complications and lead to many serious birth defects in the baby.
Women who take an SSRI drug after twenty weeks into pregnancy experience a six-fold increase in the chances of giving birth to a baby with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN). The normal transition of the baby that occurs after birth becomes disrupted, causing difficulties in breathing outside the womb. This condition is associated with many severe complications, including death in severe cases.
A research that was published in the 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine showed an association between the use of SSRI drugs such as Lexapro and the occurrence of Anencephaly in the newborns. This serious birth defect becomes apparent when the baby is born with missing parts of the brain and skull. Another study whose findings were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that "Anencephaly--birth without a forebrain--showed a 2.4 times greater occurrence in women who had taken SSRIs in the first trimester." According to the CDC, there is no known treatment for this condition and the babies die soon after birth.
Another devastating condition that has been linked with the use of drugs such as Lexapro is Omphalocele. This is a condition of the abdominal wall in which babies are born with organs sticking out of the body. The study by the CDC found a 2.8 times higher risk in babies born to women who took SSRIs while pregnant compared to the control group. Omphalocele can cause a lot of other problems for the baby including abdominal cavity, infections and organ damage. The condition can be life threatening and the child will have to undergo surgery.
Craniosynostosis, which is a bone condition of the skull, also showed a 2.5 times higher prevalence in babies exposed to a SSRI drug in utero. It prevents the brain from developing in the normal way and causes the head of the baby to be deformed.
According to the Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation, one of the most frequently occurring birth defects due to the use of SSRI drugs such as Lexapro are cleft lip and cleft palate. These are severe facial malformations which result due to gaps that remain while facial structures of the babies are being developed.
Escitalopram, sold as Lexapro, is an anti-depressant prescribed by doctors to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The drug is known to have triggered the following side effects in patients. Though rare, if these side effects are experienced, they may require immediate medical attention.
Over the years, many lawsuits have been filed against Forest laboratories, the manufacturer of Lexapro. In 2012, three women accused the company of marketing the drug in the market despite knowing about the serious birth defects that it may lead to. The lawsuits which were filed in St. Louis Circuit Court claimed compensation for the expenses incurred in the treatment of the severe conditions that the children were born with. These included spina bifida, club foot, and bilateral cleft lip.
Therefore, if your child has developed a birth defect due to the use of Lexapro , you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the drug's manufacturer or the physician who prescribed the medicine. To learn more about your legal rights, you should contact a law firm that has an expertise in dealing with Lexapro birth defect lawsuits. An attorney will evaluate your case and help you in claiming financial compensation for the expenses incurred during treatment and the pain and suffering borne.
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