Do you have a Prozac PPHN Lawsuit? Women taking Prozac and other popular SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy may twice as likely to have a baby with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), a life-threatening condition that occurs shortly after birth. The link was strongest when women took antidepressants or Prozac late in pregnancy.
Prozac (fluoxetine) is a medication most often used in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, some eating disorders, and panic attacks. There are also many off-label uses for the medication, including treatment of alcoholism, sleep disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, and more. It belongs to a class of medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that make a person’s brain release extra serotonin, a chemical in the brain essential for balanced moods.
Prozac and PPHN
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who took antidepressants such as Prozac during the second half of pregnancy were about twice as likely to have a baby with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).
The researchers analyzed data from 1.6 million births in five countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) between 1996 and 2007. The researchers found that 11,000 of the mothers took antidepressants late in pregnancy, and 17,000 took the medications early in pregnancy.
For the women taking antidepressants late in pregnancy, 33 babies were born with PPHN (0.2%), or about 3 per 1,000 live births. This is more than double the background risk of 1-2 babies who develop PPHN at birth.
In 2006, the FDA found that infants born to mothers who took SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to have a baby with PPHN compared with mothers who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy. The background risk is estimated to be 1-2 infants with PPHN per 1,000 live births.
The FDA cautions that since the 2006 study was concluded, several new studies of the link between SSRI antidepressant use during pregnancy and PPHN have been inconclusive. The agency decided to update the safety labels of Prozac and other SSRI antidepressants to reflect the new data and the conflicting results.
What is PPHN?
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) is a rare but serious complication of birth that is more likely to occur when pregnant mothers took Prozac or other SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy.
PPHN is a problem that occurs with a baby’s circulation system at birth, when it must transition from an oxygen-dependent state inside the mother to an oxygen-independent state outside the womb. Normally, while the baby is developing in the womb, the mother’s placenta supplies the baby with oxygenated blood. This blood actually bypasses the unborn baby’s lungs through a hole in the heart called the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), which closes shortly after birth. Just before a baby is born, the pressure in the baby’s lungs drops significantly, and blood floods the baby’s lungs. When it takes its first breath, the oxygen reaches a large amount of blood in the lungs, and the baby starts to supply its own oxygen. When a baby is born with PPHN, however, the pressure in the lungs remains persistently high. Consequently, very little blood flows into the lungs. When the baby takes its first breath, oxygen comes in contact with very little blood, and the baby is unable to supply its own oxygen. As a result, the infant becomes oxygen-deprived. PPHN is a life-threatening condition that can cause death. Between 5% and 10% of babies born with PPHN do not survive.
What are SSRI antidepressants?
The researchers found that Prozac was not the only SSRI antidepressant linked to PPHN. Several types of antidepressant medications, including Prozac, have been linked to an increased risk of having a baby with PPHN. These medications include:
- Paxil, Seroxat (paroxetine)
- Zoloft, Lustral (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro, Cipralex (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin, Zyban (bupropion)
- Effexor (vanlafaxine)
If you have taken any SSRI antidepressant and you had a baby with PPHN, you may have a Prozac PPHN lawsuit and be entitled to compensation for injury to you and your child.