Medication-Related Birth Defects

New Jersey Birth Defect Lawyers Discuss Medications during Pregnancy

In recent years, members of the medical community and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recognized a link between certain drugs and birth defects. When a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, it is essential for her doctor to prescribe the appropriate medication and to explain all of the risks associated with any medications she is currently taking. It is also the physician’s responsibility to weigh the benefits and risks associated with a medical condition and the medication that may be necessary to treat it. If a doctor fails to assess or inform a mother about the risks a certain medication may pose to her child, this may be considered medical malpractice. Our experienced attorneys are always available to provide you with a free consultation regarding medication birth defects. Simply call (866)-708-8617 or contact us online for answers to your specific questions.

The Medication Birth Defect Link

Information is far from complete as it relates to most medications’ impact on child development if taken by a mother during pregnancy. The primary reason for this is the lack of testing on pregnant women during clinical trials. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 10% of medications approved by the FDA since 1980 have sufficient information about the risk they pose for birth defects. However, several research studies have confirmed a significant correlation between certain drugs and birth defects. For instance, doctors should not prescribe thalidomide (brand name Thalomid), isotretinoin (brand names Accutane and Claravis) to pregnant women.

Other classes of medications have incomplete but compelling information related to birth defects. For instance, there is ongoing debate surrounding Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), which are typically used to treat anxiety and depression. Examples of commonly prescribed SSRI medications include Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, and Zoloft. In some cases, such as those involving history of suicide, bipolar disorder, or severe and recurring depression, the benefits of continuing to take an SSRI during pregnancy outweigh the risks. However, SSRI’s during pregnancy may place babies at increased risk for:

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Omphalocele
  • Anencephaly
  • Limb abnormalities
  • Spina Bifida
  • Heart defects
  • Cleft palate
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Breathing problems

Other types of drugs that may have a connection with birth defects and health problems in newborns include some seizure medications, benzodiazepines, antibiotics, and even some over-the-counter medications. The most important thing that doctors must do is inform and educate their patients about the potential risks of taking a medication while pregnant. Since the information available is incomplete, it is the physician’s role to ensure their patient understands what is known as a specific drug. Engaging in a dialogue and addressing the patient’s specific needs is critical when prescribing medication during pregnancy.

New Jersey Prescription Drug Birth Defect Attorneys

If your child was diagnosed with a birth defect and your doctor failed to address the risks associated with taking certain medication during pregnancy, it is imperative to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your rights. Our talented legal team is available anytime to assist you. Please contact us online or call (866)-708-8617 for additional information and a free consultation.

With offices in New Jersey and New York, our lawyers serve clients in Jersey City, Hackensack, Morristown, Elizabeth, Toms River, Neptune, Somerset, Summit, New Brunswick, Flemington, Paterson, Newark, and throughout the tri-state area. We also consult on prescription negligence during pregnancy cases nationwide.


Medications and Pregnancy, U.S. CDC

FDA Drug Safety Communication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant use during pregnancy and reports of a rare heart and lung condition in newborn babies

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