Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and their effects on birth defects have been the subject of numerous studies.  In 2005, two different studies showed a link between Paxil and an increase in the risk of cardiac birth defects.  A study based on data from the US Insurance Registry Database showed a 150% increase in cardiac defects in infants who were exposed to Paxil while in the womb.  The study also showed a 180% increase in the total number of congenital malformations (including heart malformations).  A separate study based on data from the Swedish National Registry showed a 200% increased risk of cardiac birth defects.

In July of 2006, the labeling of Paxil was updated to reflect some of these risks, but the original studies merited further investigation.  In addition to the persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn study, other studies have found marked increases in certain birth defects from SSRI usage in the first trimester of pregnancy.  These birth defects include:

  • Anal Atresia – Also known as imperforate anus.  A birth defect distinguished by the absence of an opening at the bottom end of the intestinal tract.  Immediate surgery is required.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 440%
    • Celexa Risk Increase: 300%
  • Anencephaly – A neural tube defect resulting in the absence of a large part of the brain, skull, and scalp.  Anencephaly occurs when the neural tube fails to close.  Very few children with this birth defect will live more than one day.
    • Any SSRI Risk Increase: 240%
  • Cleft Lip – A congenital deformity in which the upper lip is not fused together properly.  This birth defect is recognizable by an abnormal split in the upper lip and is treatable with surgery.
    • Celexa Risk Increase: 320%
  • Club Foot – A physical birth defect in which the foot is twisted and down.  Club foot is generally treated with surgery and/or braces.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 240%
    • Paxil Risk Increase: 580%
    • Celexa Risk Increase: 270%
  • Conotruncal Defects – Very serious heart defects that involve abnormal structuring in the heart or blood vessels around the heart.  Conotruncal heart defects must be corrected with a complex open heart surgery that has an inherently high risk of fatality.
    • Paxil Risk Increase: 170%
  • Craniosynostosis – A condition where sutures in the skull close too early, impeding normal brain and skull growth and causing physical deformity.  Craniosynostosis is usually treated with surgery to reshape the skull.  Young infants may be eligible for a less invasive endoscopic procedure.
    • Any SSRI Risk Increase: 250%
  • Left Ventricle Flow Defects – Improper blood flow through the left ventricle.  This birth defect is usually the result of a septal defect.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 190%
    • Celexa Risk Increase: 330%
  • Limb Reduction – An arm, hand, leg, or foot does not form correctly.  As a result, the affected appendage(s) is missing or abnormally short.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 390%
    • Celexa Risk Increase: 400%
  • Neural Tube Defects – The general classification for birth defects affecting the spinal cord and brain.  Anencephaly, encephalocele – where the brain protrudes through holes in the skull, and spina bifida – an incomplete formation of the spinal cord are the types of neural tube defects.  The quality of life for encephalocele and spina bifida can be increased through surgery.
    • Paxil Risk Increase: 330%
  • Omphalocele – A muscle defect in the abdominal wall that causes the intestines or other internal organs to remain outside of the abdomen, protruding through the navel.  Omphalocele is generally treated through surgery.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 570%
    • Any SSRI Risk Increase: 280%
  • Right Ventricle Flow Defects – Improper blood flow through the right ventricle.  This birth defect is usually the result of a septal defect.
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 200%
  • Septal Defects – Septal defects are sometimes called “holes in the heart”.  The septum is a wall separating the left and right side of the heart.  A septal defect between the heart’s two lower chambers is called a ventricular septal defect (VSD).
    • Zoloft Risk Increase: 200%

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consult with a physician if they are currently taking, considering taking, or considering discontinuation of Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), or any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant.  Other common SSRI drugs include:

  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Symbyax (olanzapine/fluoxetine)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)

If you or a loved one has taken Paxil, Zoloft, or any SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy and has given birth to a child with heart, lung, brain, or physical birth defects, The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker wants to help.  Larry H. Parker and his team of pharmaceutical litigation attorneys form a highly recognized legal practice with the knowledge and resources to handle your SSRI case successfully.  Our experienced team of attorneys has been researching Paxil related birth defects for over a decade.

It can be difficult on a family that has experienced an SSRI-related birth defect.  The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker will do everything in our power to make our clients feel comfortable.  Our helpful field associates can come directly to you to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about pursuing an SSRI case, regardless of where you and your family may live.  We’ll talk at your kitchen table.®

To schedule a free, confidential, consultation, send us an email using our case submission form or call us at (800) 333-0000.  Our clients can rest assured that there are no out-of-pocket expenses, and if we don’t recover any compensation, we won’t charge our clients any attorneys fees.  The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker has offices in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Bakersfield, and Fresno, California and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

Tough times call for tough lawyers.  We’ll fight for you!®

Paxil® is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline.  Zoloft® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc.  Prozac® and Symbyax® are registered trademarks of Eli Lilly and Company.  Lexapro® and Celexa® are registered trademarks of Forest Laboratories, Inc.  Effexor® is a registered trademark of American Home Products Corporation.  Luvox® is a registered trademark of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Also see the FDA Paxil information page.