Understanding the Link Between Defective Drugs and Birth Injuries
We are all well aware of the birth defects and injuries that can occur due to the use of alcohol, nicotine, and elicit drugs during pregnancy. However, did you know that the use of some prescription drugs may cause harm to women during pregnancy and can greatly increase the risk of birth injuries and/or defects? Some of these defective drugs have long been considered safe to take during pregnancy and/or while breastfeeding, but more and more research shows that they may not be as safe as previously thought.
Anti-Depressant Drugs and Birth Injuries
Taking prescription anti-depressants, and specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) was long thought to be safe during pregnancy, especially for women who suffered from anxiety. However, 10 years ago now, the FDA released a warning to the public against taking prescription SSRI drugs while pregnant. Drugs like Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Fluvoxamine, and others are now known to significantly increase the chances of developing PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn).
In addition to blood pressure problems, SSRI medications are also associated with a number of other birth defects and injuries, including:
- Abnormalities in the infant’s limbs
- Spina bifida – A neural tube defect that can cause defects in the spinal cord, as well as in the spinal bones.
- Cleft palate or lip
- Omphalocele – A hole in the navel, causing part or all of the intestines and/or other abdominal organs to develop outside of the child’s body.
- Heart defects
- Craniosynostosis – an abnormally shaped skull resulting from one or more of the sutures of the skull fusing too soon in development.
Other Defective Drugs That May Cause Harm to Mothers or Babies
Of course, as eye-opening as these findings have been for many new and expectant parents over the past decade, SSRIs are not the only medications that can cause birth defects and/or birth injuries.
- Benzodiazepines – Also prescribed for anxiety, as well as seizures, insomnia, and panic attacks, benzodiazepines can cause problems with muscle control, temperature regulation, and/or breathing for an infant if the mother takes them during pregnancy.
- Accutane – You might think that Accutane would be safe to use during pregnancy, as it’s just a type of vitamin A, but this acne treatment has been linked with numerous severe birth defects and even infant wrongful deaths. According to the FDA, more than a quarter of women who take Accutane during pregnancy will give birth to a baby who suffers from birth defects. Not only that, but it’s actually suggested that women stop the use of Accutane as long as three years before attempting to conceive.
- NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) – Even over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and Motrin may not be safe to take while pregnant. These have been associated with various neural tube defects, abnormalities in infants’ limbs, and other defects.
- Some antibiotics – While some antibiotics are perfectly safe to take during pregnancy, including penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, others have been shown to increase the risk of anencephaly (a defect causing the malformation of the brain and skull), as well as vision problems, cleft lip, and/or heart defects. Some of these include sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin’s, and tetracyclines.
- Seizure medications – If you are prone to seizures and you become pregnant, you should speak with your doctor about the best course of action to keep yourself and your baby safe. Many anti-seizure medications have been known to cause a number of birth defects, including developmental delays, deformities in the organs, skull and brain defects, and other problems. Talk with your doctor about a possible alternative.
We should be clear that your physician is legally obligated to ensure that you are not given medication that is dangerous or potentially injurious to you or your unborn baby. If your doctor is aware that you are pregnant or attempting to conceive and prescribes one of these or another defective drug that could cause birth injuries or birth defects, you could have a case for a medical malpractice suit. If you or your baby has suffered ill effects, birth defects, and/or birth injuries due to the use of a drug that you thought was safe, contact us at Birth Injury Center today.