Lexapro has proven widely effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and has grown immensely in popularity over the last several years. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Forest Laboratories, the makers of Lexapro, for the birth defects and dangerous medical conditions that have been linked with the usage of this drug.
Lexapro was given a grade C by the Food and Drug Administration for its level of safety when used during pregnancy. Research shows that the drug had adverse effects on the reproduction of the animals being tested. Though the medication may be harmful to the fetus, the benefits of its usage may outweigh the risks therefore allowing approval for use in expecting mothers.
Mothers of children born with birth defects have filed numerous lawsuits against Forest Labs for the injuries as well as the failure to alert users of these potential risks. In one case in St. Louis, Missouri, in which three mothers filed Lexapro lawsuits, the mothers argue that if they had been aware of these potential side effects that they would not have taken the medication and would have chosen a safer alternative.
Lexapro Lawsuit – Birth Defects
Birth defects caused by Lexapro include:
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of Newborns (PPHN) - PPHN is one of the most life threatening side effects of the birth defects. PPHN affects a newborns heart and lungs by causing difficulty adapting and breathing outside of the womb. Infants born with this condition are often admitted into intensive care and require supported ventilation and heightened supervision.
- Cleft Palette and/or Cleft Lip - Cleft palette is occurs when the body’s natural structure does not properly fuse together while in the womb. There then becomes a gap that can often be surgically corrected but otherwise requires special care and attention. Cleft palates can lead to speech impairment, difficulty breathing and ear infections and hearing problems.
- Heart Defects - The use of any SSRI imposes a heightened risk of heart defects in newborns however, expectant mothers that are prescribed Lexapro are at nearly double the risk of obtaining heart defects including, but not limited to, atrial septal defect, hypoplastic heart syndromes, tetralogy of fallot and transposition of the great arteries.
- Neural Tube Defects - Fetuses exposed to Lexapro while in the womb are at twice the risk of obtaining anencephaly, a neural tube defect. Anencephaly is a fatal disorder characterized by the absence of a large portion of the brain and skull.
These defects are among several others including limb defects, spina bifida and cranial defects. Mothers should be aware that the chemicals in Lexapro can travel through the placenta and the use of this drug puts themselves and their unborn child at risk of defect or even death. Expecting mothers should consider their health as well as that of their child and contact a physician about possible alternative medications.
Many Lexapro lawsuits allege a lack of warning given to patients about the potential dangers of the medication. Research shows that the company may have been aware of the possibility of birth defects but chose to keep this information concealed from the public. The FDA recommends that doctors carefully review the options with patients before opting to take Lexapro during pregnancy, especially after 20 weeks.