Lexapro and Birth Defects


Recent studies have linked Lexapro and other antidepressants to serious birth defects. Lexapro is an FDA Pregnancy Category C drug, which signifies a high risk of birth defects are associated with this drug. However, Lexapro is still prescribed to a large number of pregnant women. Included in the long list of potential Lexapro birth defects are craniosynostosis, congenital heart defects, and oral cleft birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

Lexapro (escitalopram) is an antidepressant that is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder and anxiety. Lexapro belongs to the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

On July 19, 2006, the FDA released a Health Advisory cautioning women about the risks of taking SSRIs during pregnancy. This warning was based on a New England Journal of Medicine study that concluded that mothers who took SSRIs during the second half of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have a baby with PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns) than mothers who did not use SSRIs during that stage of pregnancy.

A number of other studies substantiate the aforementioned study by suggesting that use of SSRIs during pregnancy can cause serious cardiac birth defects such as:

  • Coarctation of the Aorta and Lexapro: When an infant’s aorta is too narrow, the result is uneven blood flow. This Lexapro birth defect may require surgery or other medical intervention.

  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Lexapro: When the left side of an infant’s heart does not develop properly, it can result in sudden death, the need for a heart transplant, and further surgeries later in life.

  • Pulmonary Stenosis and Lexapro: When the pulmonary valve becomes too narrow, this can cause reduced blood flow to the lungs.

  • Septal Heart Defects and Lexapro: Atrial or ventricular septal heart defects are holes in an infant’s heart. This can cause poor blood circulation and can make the heart work harder than it should, possibly requiring open heart surgery.

  • Tetralogy of Fallot and Lexapro: This birth defect generally involves four components: thickening of the right ventricle, dilated aorta connected to both the right and left ventricles, narrowing of the pulmonary valve, and large ventricular septal defects. This Lexapro birth defect can cause the lungs to provide insufficient oxygen to the blood and often requires surgery.

  • Transposition of the Great Arteries and Lexapro: When the aorta and the pulmonary artery are switched, it can result in a lack of oxygen in the blood and often requires surgery.

Other Lexapro birth defects may include:

  • Craniosynostosis and Lexapro: When the sutures in an infant’s head harden prematurely, it can cause physical deformities, intracranial pressure, and a lack of growth in the child’s head

  • Cleft Palate and Lexapro: When the parts of the skull that form the roof of the mouth fail to fuse properly, a cleft can form. This can cause physical deformities as well as problems eating, breathing, and speaking, as well as chronic ear infections.

  • Club Foot and Lexapro: This Lexapro birth defect happens when the bones, joints, muscles, and blood vessels in an infant’s leg are not normal. One or both feet may be clubbed, causing them to turn inward or downward. Club foot can cause mobility problems and pain without treatment.

  • PPHN and Lexapro: Persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns is a birth defect where the blood flow to the lungs is constricted. This limits oxygen in the blood stream and is potentially fatal, sometimes requiring heart transplants.

Contact a Lexapro Lawyer

If you gave birth to a child with a serious birth defect after using Lexapro or another SSRI during pregnancy, you may be able to recover substantial compensation in a dangerous drug lawsuit. Contact our personal injury lawyers today to learn more in a free legal consultation and case evaluation.


Dec. 28, 2011 | Tags: Birth Defects, Craniosynostosis, Dangerous Drugs, Lexapro, PPHN, Septal Heart Defects

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