Your baby's birth was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of your life. Instead, your doctor informed you that your child was born with the serious birth defect of a hole in his heart. If you were prescribed Zoloft during your pregnancy (or before you even knew you were pregnant), Zoloft may be responsible for your baby's birth defect. As of October 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recalled Zoloft. However, the agency has released a series of warnings about its link to serious birth defects -- including feeding issues and abdominal organs poking through a newborn's belly button -- and serious side effects. Unfortunately, those warnings came too late for many moms who took the drug.
Read about the first steps to possibly being reimbursed for your child's injuries through a Zoloft lawsuit and the kinds of damages (monetary compensation) you might be awarded.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft is a prescription drug used to treat severe depression and a variety of other conditions, including anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Zoloft is the brand name for the product sold by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, but several other companies sell a generic version of the drug (sertraline hydrochloride).
FDA Warnings: Zoloft Can Cause Birth Defects
The FDA warns that clinical studies have linked Zoloft and other similar antidepressants, taken at any point during your pregnancy, to multiple serious birth defects, including the following:
If your doctor has diagnosed your baby with a "hole" in his or her heart, Zoloft may be the cause. Ultimately, atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD) may cause the lungs to become congested.
There have also been claims that Zoloft has been linked to persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). If the fetus's blood circulation fails to switch from fetal circulation to a healthy newborn's circulation, it results in high blood pressure that decreases your baby's supply of oxygen.
Other evidence suggests that there may be a connection between Zoloft and a congenital defect which causes babies to be born with intestines sticking through their belly button. As a fetus develops during pregnancy, the intestines grow and push out from the belly into the umbilical cord. If the intestines do not go back into the fetus's belly by the eleventh week of pregnancy, an omphalocele occurs.
Some claims against Pfizer include arguments that the mom took Zoloft and the baby developed craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis occurs when one or more of the bones in a child's skull close before the child turns two and it becomes misshapen. The bones in a child's skull are not supposed to fuse this early, allowing for the brain to fully develop first. This can lead to neurological damage in extreme cases.
Zoloft Side Effects
In addition to the birth defects described above, Zoloft has also been linked to serious side effects, including the following:
Note: If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away: Text "GO" to 741741 (the Crisis Text Line) or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Normal texting and call rates apply, but both services are free and confidential 24/7. There is no shame in suicidal thoughts.
Do I Have a Case?
There are two main ways to bring a case for injuries you think may be linked to your use of Zoloft. The first is to bring an action against your doctor for failing to fulfill their role as a "learned intermediary." The second is to bring a suit against the drug manufacturer for failing to warn your doctor about the foreseeable risks of harm to someone who uses the product as directed (like you).
In April of 2016, a federal judge from the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed more than 300 lawsuits against Pfizer, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to bring any reliable scientific evidence that Zoloft caused the birth defects. Only cases with claims pending against defendants aside from Pfizer remain with the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 2015, the West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of 20 Zoloft lawsuits and allowed only those claims brought by West Virginia residents to remain.
Get a Free Claim Review from an Injury Attorney
Whether your baby is struggling to breathe, his head is growing misshapen, or she is suffering from one of the other common birth defects, if you were taking Zoloft as prescribed during your pregnancy, Zoloft may be the cause. Birth defects can result in pain and suffering for you and your family, serious medical bills, and other financial hardships. Whether you or your child suffered serious adverse side effects, get a free claim review from an attorney who has successfully sued Zoloft's manufacturer and other drug companies for the damage their drugs have caused.
The FDA's special website dedicated to drugs and medications resources