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Read Real Stories from Antidepressant Birth Defects Cases

Los Angeles Attorneys Fighting for Children and Families Nationwide

Over the years, our attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have helped many families to secure fair outcomes after their child was born with an antidepressant birth defect. To us, personal injury law is about more than just winning recoveries: It’s about the children and their families whose lives were forever altered because of negligence and corporate greed. Below, we’ve compiled some of the real, heart-wrenching stories from our antidepressant birth defect cases in the past*, to help families struggling with similar burdens know that they are not alone in this fight.

*All names in the stories below have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy.

Client Stories

Lexapro Baby Undergoes Open-Heart Surgery to Repair Damaged Heart

When Miranda was nine months old, she was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and pulmonary atresia, two serious heart defects that considerably limited the amount of oxygen in her blood. These defects occurred because Miranda’s mother took Lexapro (escitalopram) during the first few months of her pregnancy. She was not aware that taking this SSRI antidepressant could potentially adversely affect her unborn child.

By the time she was a toddler, Miranda had spent much of her life in and out of hospitals. She had also undergone open heart surgery to repair her congenital heart defects. Although the surgery was successful, Miranda may need additional surgeries in the future, and her life will always be affected by her heart abnormalities.

Adrian Underwent His First Open-Heart Surgery at Five-Days-Old

Adrian’s mother was just a few weeks away from delivering her baby when she went in for a routine ultrasound. What the doctors discovered would change her life forever: Her unborn son, Adrian, had a life-threatening congenital heart defect. The doctors said that Adrian had a large hole in the center of his heart. Adrian’s parents spent the next few weeks hoping and praying that their son would be able to survive once he was born.

Peyton Received a New Heart at Two-Months-Old

During the first few weeks after Peyton’s birth, Peyton and her mother had to return to the doctor several times because Peyton was suffering from constant flu symptoms that wouldn’t go away. When Peyton was eight weeks old, on her mother’s insistence, an echocardiogram was performed. The results of this exam showed that Peyton was, in fact, far from okay: She was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), and needed a heart transplant.

When Peyton was just over two months old she received a donor heart. Although the transplant was successful, due to all of the medications Peyton must take to keep her body from rejecting her heart, she will likely need a kidney transplant in the future. Because Peyton’s heart conditions were strongly correlated with the SSRI taken by her mother during the pregnancy, Peyton’s parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against the drug manufacturer.

Aaron Born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Tetralogy of Fallot

Aaron was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Tetralogy of Fallot. At six-days-old, he had his first open heart surgery. Since then he has had multiple surgeries and he must also get a new heart and kidneys in order to survive. As part of the legal team representing Aaron and his family, our attorneys at Baum Hedlund filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the antidepressant Aaron’s mother took while pregnant. She was unaware of the birth defect risks associated with taking antidepressants while pregnant until she saw a television commercial alerting about the risks.

At Three-Days-Old, Emerson had Open-Heart Surgery and Needed Life Support

During her pregnancy, Terry Bowers was led to believe that there were no risks associated with using a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. After all, the manufacturer didn’t include any information on the label about possible birth defects. But when Bowers went in for her routine 24-week ultrasound, she was referred to a cardiologist, who said that her unborn child Emerson had a congenital heart defect called a “transposition of the great arteries” or TGA.

The same day, Emerson Bowers was born and transferred to the pediatric cardiac unit of Children’s Hospital, where a balloon was inserted in his heart so the blood could oxygenate. At three days old, Emerson had open-heart surgery and was on life support for hours. Two weeks later, his parents took him home.

Emerson is now a growing child, but his parents worry constantly. “We enjoy every day as much as we can with him because five days or maybe five years from now, he may need another surgery. And we are still hoping everything is okay.”

Nicholas Was Born With PPHN and Only Lived for 48 Days

Jenna Blaine took an SSRI antidepressant during her pregnancy. The label did not properly warn against taking it during pregnancy and the manufacturer assured it was safe. Late summer that same year, Jenna’s son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a rare birth defect known as Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN). Less than seven weeks later, he passed away. “I felt sick, I felt it was my fault,” Jenna recounted, later adding “I know now it wasn’t my fault . . .”

In PPHN cases, very little blood flows into the fetal lungs prior to birth, and once a baby with PPHN is born, blood flow continues to bypass the lungs. As a result, Nicholas was connected to a ventilator and remained linked to this machine for most of his short life. He was transferred to two hospitals before doctors realized that nothing else could be done to save his life. Finally, 48 days after his birth, Jenna was allowed to hold Nicholas in her arms. “I never had the chance to hold him until the doctors decided there was nothing else they could do,” Jenna remembered. “When he was disconnected from the machine, I was finally able to hold him to say goodbye.”

Jennifer Had Open-Heart Surgery at Six-Months-Old

When Jennifer Dumont was born, everything seemed normal. Her mother Laura had no way of knowing that her beautiful baby girl would undergo open-heart surgery before she reached her first birthday, because Laura had taken the SSRI known as Zoloft during her pregnancy. When Jennifer was just four weeks old, a cardiologist diagnosed her with three major congenital heart defects.

The Dumonts were not warned about the link between SSRI antidepressants and birth defects. Tragically, the Dumonts learned the truth about Zoloft and birth defects too late. Laura knows and understands that her daughter’s life will not be easy, and that Jennifer will most likely undergo more heart surgeries throughout her young life.

In Memory of Indiana

In 2007, Christian Delahunty wanted to have another baby. She asked her doctor whether or not she should stop taking Effexor, an antidepressant, and he told her that there were no studies proving that Effexor is transferred to the baby in utero or via breast milk. Christian continued taking Effexor during her pregnancy, but her daughter Indiana was born with severe respiratory defects. She was only six-weeks-old when she stopped breathing during a nap and was put on life support, before ultimately passing away on September 13, 2008.

Addison Started Turning Gray Right After She Was Born

Moments after Addison Curlette was born, her body began turning gray – and what should have been a moment of celebration quickly turned into one of panic. Addison was rushed to a specialist who diagnosed the newborn with a congenital heart defect called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR). Addison was also diagnosed with ventricular septal defect (VSD) which is an opening between the right and left ventricles. At only days old, Addison underwent open heart surgery to correct her heart defects.

Shortly after, Jennifer learned the truth about antidepressants and the data linking their use to birth defects. She took the antidepressant Zoloft while pregnant with her second child, because the label had no warnings about use during pregnancy. Jennifer was also reassured by the manufacturer of the drug, Pfizer, which touted it as a safe medication to use during pregnancy. As a result, Addison will suffer for the rest of her life.

In Memory of Matthew Schultz

Christiane Schultz took Effexor throughout her pregnancy. On February 21, 2009, her son Matthew Schultz was born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a life-threatening disorder in which the newborn’s arteries to the lungs remain constricted after delivery, limiting the amount of blood flow to the lungs and therefore the amount of oxygen into the bloodstream. PPHN is a rare birth defect that becomes much more likely when the mother takes certain antidepressants (like Effexor) during the pregnancy.

Effexor Newborn Has Open-Heart Surgery and Dies Days Later

Nancy Brown was born to a room full of doctors prepared to save her fragile life. She had been diagnosed before birth with a severe heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means that the left side of her heart was completely underdeveloped. Despite their best efforts – and an emergency open-heart surgery performed just hours after her birth – doctors were unable to save Nancy’s life. Nancy passed away when she was just five days old.

During the pregnancy, Nancy’s mother Jamie was taking Effexor and was not properly warned about the serious birth defects associated with taking this drug during pregnancy. According to emerging scientific data, SNRI antidepressants like Effexor may have an adverse effect on the developing fetus.

Before Ariel was Born, Doctors Said There was Something Wrong with Her Heart

Before Ariel Klein was born, doctors told her parents there was something wrong with her developing heart. On the day she was born, she was not breathing properly and doctors detected a heart murmur. Hours after her birth doctors diagnosed Ariel with pulmonary valve stenosis, a serious birth defect that would require her to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for several weeks.

Her mother, Alyssa Klein, also took Effexor during her pregnancy with Ariel. Effexor is a popular SNRI antidepressant approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression and anxiety. Like many mothers that took Effexor while pregnant, Alyssa believed that the drug was safe and would have no negative effect on her baby, because the pharmaceutical manufacturers did not warn about the possible birth defects associated with Effexor use.

Blaine’s Coarctation of the Aorta has Led to Two Open-Heart Surgeries

When Robyn learned that Effexor and other SNRI and SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants were linked to birth defects, she felt betrayed. Like many other mothers that took Effexor while pregnant, Robyn was made to believe that taking the antidepressant was safe for her and her baby. What Robyn and other pregnant mothers didn’t know is that Effexor has been linked to birth defects.

As a result of his mother taking Effexor, Blaine Keller was born with a number of congenital heart defects. He suffered from coarctation of the aorta, a life-threatening birth defect affecting the large artery that pumps blood into the rest of the body. Blaine also had both atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD), which caused oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood. Blaine underwent his first open-heart surgery when he was less than one month old, only to have a second open-heart surgery a year later.

Troy Was Born with Tetralogy of Fallot

When Penelope Gallow was pregnant, doctors noticed that her unborn child’s heart was not developing normally. Before her baby was born, they had detected a hole in his heart as well as an absent pulmonary valve. Penelope was taking the antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) throughout her pregnancy. She was told it was safe, but Effexor has since been linked to a number of birth defects, including congenital heart defects.

Her son Troy underwent his first open heart surgery when he was just three days old, after he was born with tetralogy of fallot (TOF), a heart defect that includes four congenital heart anomalies. Thankfully, the operation was a success, but it would be the first of many to follow. By the time Troy was five years old, he had undergone no less than three open-heart surgeries and numerous catheterizations.

One-Month-Old Jillian Suffered Full Cardiac Failure

Jillian Baker was born a full-term baby. Her doctors had also detected what was initially thought to be just a heart murmur, but Jillian’s newborn heart was under a great deal of additional stress. When Jillian was just one month old, she suffered full cardiac failure. Doctors discovered that Jillian’s heart murmur was caused by malformations that occurred while her heart was forming during the first trimester of her mother’s pregnancy.

Jillian’s mother took Effexor throughout her pregnancy because she was assured it was safe. She never imagined it could potentially cause her child to suffer from Effexor birth defects. As a result of those fetal malformations, her heart was riddled with holes, and her parents were faced with the fact that their daughter might not survive.

Although Jillian has managed to survive these hurdles thus far, she will always be reminded of her struggles as an infant by the large surgical scar she bears on her chest – and her parents will never forget what they went through and what she overcame.

Eric Was Born with Tetralogy of Fallot

When Eric Summers was born, doctors detected a strong heart murmur. This murmur was later diagnosed as a very serious birth defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a congenital defect consisting of four different types of heart abnormalities, including a hole in the heart called a ventricular septal defect, a narrowing of the pulmonary outflow tube, a thickening muscular wall in the right ventricle called right ventricular hypertrophy and the growth of an extra aorta in the right ventricle.

When Eric was just a little over a week old, he underwent open heart surgery to repair the TOF. Eric’s mother took Lexapro (escitalopram) during her pregnancy with Eric. She did not know that taking the antidepressant would affect her baby. She was not warned about Lexapro and therefore never imagined that using the SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy would cause such devastation.

Now a cheerful and curious toddler, Eric is still exposed to the possibility of developmental delay, which is very typical in a baby born with serious heart defects. He continues to have regular check-ups with his cardiologist and his parents continuously await the possibility of a future pulmonary replacement, a serious open-heart surgery.

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