Zoloft has been associated with an increased risk of birth defects in infants whose mothers took Zoloft during pregnancy. These Zoloft birth defects run the gambit of minor problems to life-threatening problems that could lead to permanent injury or death. As of May 5, 2014, there have been over 420 lawsuits filed. By 2018, virtually all of these cases have been dismissed.
An Overview of the Association Between Zoloft and Birth Defects
Over the last 10 years, SSRI’s like Zoloft have been accused by plaintiffs’ lawyers of causing everything from Akathisia to Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. I’m making up the latter, but you get the idea. Zoloft has been a controversial drug with a lawsuit target on its back. Some of these allegations have stuck, others have been thoroughly dismissed, and some we still just don’t know. The evidence of an association between Zoloft and birth defects, however, has been growing at an accelerated rate.
Zoloft (Sertraline) is one of the most prescribed drugs in the world for the treatment of various problems. It belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is used to treat several conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Sertraline works by increasing the amounts of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.
Back in July 2006, the FDA issued an alert after a study reported that infants born to mothers who took SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants who were born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during their pregnancy. PPHN causes newborns to have increased pressure in the blood vessels in their lungs. As a result, they cannot get enough oxygen into their bloodstream. The risk of a woman having a child with PPHN in the general population is about 1 to 2 infants per 1000 live births.