Drugs are prescribed all the time by our family physicians and mental health care providers, with the intent that certain drugs are meant to take care of the initial problem at hand. Let’s take the drug Zoloft, most commonly used to treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and anxiety disorders. Zoloft (also known by the generic name sertraline) was released and marketed as a safe drug, although it was later found that in lab studies the results were less than positive.
In pregnant women who took Zoloft, the drug had the ability to pass through the mother’s placenta and affect her unborn child. Taking Zoloft can also result in pre-eclampsia, a fatal condition among pregnant women. Birth defects in children whose mothers took Zoloft ranged from a club foot to autism to birth abnormalities so severe that the babies did not survive long after birth. But taking Zoloft is a tricky situation: once Zoloft is started, prescribing doctors claim that ceasing to take it could be even riskier. Stopping the taking of Zoloft suddenly could result in withdrawal symptoms like further and exacerbated anxiety, weakness, hyperactivity, tremors and in extreme cases, thoughts of suicide. A doctor should prescribe a tapering of Zoloft over time, or look at alternatives to prescribing it at all.
January marked National Birth Defects Prevention Month in the United States. This awareness for National Birth Defect Prevention Month was started by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network as a way to provide education to women about risks associated with certain medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also known as SSRIs, the category in which Zoloft falls. Their site provides a variety of materials and programs specifically related to the theme for 2013: “Birth Defects are Common, Costly and Critical.” While this may scare many new mothers and pregnant women, it’s important for everyone to know the risks of taking certain drugs that could be, or may have been, prescribed during the course of pregnancy.
If you are taking Zoloft, or were prescribed Zoloft during your pregnancy, did you notice any of the following in your care provider?
- Did your doctor provide information on alternative treatments for your condition?
- What dosage was prescribed?
- Did you know the risks and side effects?
- How long had you been seeing that doctor? Did the doctor know your medical history?
- At what stage in the pregnancy was Zoloft prescribed? Did you even know you were pregnant at the time you were prescribed the drug?
If your child was born with a severe birth defect, the reason may or may not be linked to your taking a drug such as Zoloft, or another drug that was prescribed during your pregnancy. You may have a case for medical malpractice against your health care provider, and anyone else involved in the prescribing of the drug.
Zoloft-related birth defects are serious and sad. A case like this takes the expertise of a law firm renowned for settling drug-related birth defects and wrongful death lawsuits. A New York law firm who has proven success for these cases and who has your best interests at heart is the place to start to find justice for you and the future care of your child.