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Steve Thomas
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Autism joins PPHN, birth defects among Zoloft side effects

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A Swedish study published this spring showed that in-utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors “was associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders, particularly without intellectual disability.” Some science already showed a relationship between the mother’s use of these drugs during pregnancy and two externalities: birth defects and a serious newborn lung condition.

Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) is one of the drugs in its class. Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox and Viibryd are also SSRIs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Researchers in the U.K. documented the autism study. Experts with the University of Bristol there admitted that the autism connection that they observed in Sweden deserved further study. Their findings were published in the April 19 edition of the British Medical Journal.

In the meantime, Zoloft’s label reflects its apparent lung-disease risk with the following language: “Infants exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy may have an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) [which] is associated with substantial neonatal morbidity and mortality.”

Medical scientists discovered the pulmonary Zoloft side effect seven years ago.

Pregnant women lacked a warning that would have allowed them to choose to avoid the Zoloft PPHN risk. Their physicians also could have made key decisions based on that missing link. A Pfizer product, Zoloft was approved in 1991, but relatively new information about the increased risk of PPHN would not surface unfortunately until nearly a generation later.

Babies suffering from PPHN, the FDA wrote, “have high pressure in their lung blood vessels and are not able to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream.”

As if the PPHN risk was not serious enough, a Helsinki-based researcher published in December a study that linked Zoloft to increased risks of newborn “omphalocele, anal atresia, limb-reduction defects, cardiac septal defects and anencephaly.”

Zoloft class action lawsuits and similar SSRI-related actions have been filed — and will continue to be filed — on behalf of the injured, who may be entitled to compensation.

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The experienced pharmaceutical injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock, at no charge, will investigate the circumstances of anyone whose child suffered PPHN or birth defects that may have been associated with the expectant mother’s use of either Zoloft or another SSRI. To request a free case evaluation, contact the law firm, which operates in every state, toll-free at 1-866-LAW-2400. One also may submit the electronic case evaluation request form posted on its website, www.reichandbinstock.com.