Zoloft & Paxil Birth Defects: Attorney Explains Reported Injuries

Pregnant women who take GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil and Pfizer's Zoloft – both antidepressant medications – have reported giving birth to children with serious birth defects. Our legal expert explains why these drugs are dangerous and the types of birth defects which are being reported.

Attorney Bryan Aylstock

Bryan Aylstock, a Florida Paxil and Zoloft birth defect attorney, explained how these drugs are used and why they can be so dangerous to pregnant women:

Paxil and Zoloft

Paxil and Zoloft are both FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) approved pharmaceutical drugs used to treat depression and certain types of anxietal conditions, according to Aylstock, who provided an overview of each:

  • Zoloft: Zoloft treats post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and premenstrual disorphic disorder in adults over the age of 18. It’s also approved for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents age six to 17. Zoloft is manufactured by Pfizer and its generic name is Sertraline.
  • Paxil: Paxil is manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline and the generic name is Paroxetine. When Paxil came on the market, it quickly became one of the largest selling antidepressant drugs and is widely used throughout the entire world.

Both of these drugs are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), according to Aylstock, who said that they're designed to inhibit the body’s ability to reuptake this endorphin type drug called serotonin – which makes patients feel better. He explained:

Serotonin is a chemical that works on the neurons in the brain which gives a feeling of euphoria. So, if there is more serotonin circulating in the brain, people are going to feel better. Unfortunately, what happens in pregnant women is that both of these drugs pass through the placenta and affect the developing embryo, then the developing fetus and eventually the baby. They’re associated with a number of birth defects when they’re taken at certain times during pregnancy.

Paxil and Zoloft birth defects can be fatal

Aylstock says that there is a wide range of birth defects associated with Paxil and Zoloft – as well as generic equivalents – and that studies have linked these drugs to cardiac type defects, ventricular septal defects and atrial septal defects – defects that typically occur when the use is early in the first trimester when the baby's heart is still forming in the womb. He continued:

These defects can be very severe – and while some can correct themselves, others cannot. There is also a defect called craniosynostosis, which occurs when the skull does not form correctly and the plates of the skull don’t meld correctly. That can lead to additional surgeries and other complications. Club foot and other limb abnormalities are also associated with Paxil and Zoloft use during pregnancy as well as a severe problem called persistent pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure of the lungs in newborns that can be extremely serious and lead to death in some cases.

The foregoing article has been prepared by an attorney who is a regular contributor to FreeAdvice, and is now undergoing review by the site's editorial staff.