Birth Defects & Prescription Drugs

Birth Defects and Prescription Drugs

Some prescription medications are known to cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy. If your baby was born with spina bifida, a heart or lung defect, or any other type of congenital abnormality and you were prescribed a medication while you were pregnant, you might qualify for financial compensation. Contact our birth defect lawyers for a free case review today.

Each year, approximately 120,000 babies are born with birth defects. While some birth defects are minor with few or no symptoms, others are severe and can lead to serious health complications and death. Some of the most common birth defects include heart defects, lung complications, spina bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate and limb reduction defects.

Birth Defects and Prescriptions Drugs

It has been estimated that approximately 90 percent of women take some form of over-the-counter or prescription medication during their pregnancies. Although many drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, others pose serious dangers to the unborn child.

Drug makers have a responsibility to warn both consumers and health care providers of any risks associated with their medications, including the risk of birth defects. When a drug manufacturer fails to notify the public about these risks, it can and should be held accountable.

Health care providers also have a responsibility to their patients and can be held accountable if they fail to properly warn their patients about risks associated with the medications they prescribe.

Prescription Drugs Linked to Birth Defects

If you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription drugs you are taking to make sure they are safe for your baby. The following is a brief list of some of the medications that have been linked to an increase in the risk of birth defects:

  • Topamax® (topiramate), a drug to treat epilepsy increases the risk of cleft lip and cleft palate when taken during pregnancy. Studies show that Topamax® increases the risk of oral clefts by 16 times.
  • Dilantin® (phenytoin), an anticonvulsant medication, has been associated with a possible increase in the risk of spina bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate, developmental delays and other congenital malformations when taken during pregnancy.
  • Diflucan® (fluconazole), a drug used to treat yeast infections, has been linked to abnormal development of the head, face, skullcap and bones. According to an FDA warning, babies are at risk of birth defects when their mothers take high doses of Dilfucan® during the first trimester.
  • SSRI antidepressants, including  Zoloft® (sertraline), Paxil® (paroxetine), Prozac® (fluoxetine), Celexa® (citalopram),  Lexapro® (escitalopram) and Effexor® (venlafaxine) have been associated with an increase in the risk of a broad range of birth defects. Risks might include heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), neural tube defects (spina bifida), craniosynostosis, omphalocele and club foot.
  • Accutane® (isotretinoin), a strong acne medication has been linked to severe birth defects and death. Women of child bearing age who use isotretinoin are advised to use two forms of birth control to avoid pregnancy.
  • Certain antibiotics such as sulfa drugs, tetracyclines and ciprofloxacin might be linked to birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

Helpful Categorization by the FDA

In the United States, prescription drugs that are approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are placed in pregnancy categories according to how they may affect the fetus. Prescription medicines (especially those that fall in the categories C and D) should be researched thoroughly prior to taking. They may cause birth defects.

FDA pregnancy category C indicates drugs that have been tested on reproducing animals and there were adverse reactions in the animal fetuses. The valid studies of the drug and pregnancy in humans have not been conducted. The benefits of the drug may outweigh the risks involved.

FDA pregnancy class D drugs are those that have shown adverse reactions to the fetus in both animal and human studies, but the benefits may still outweigh the risks, depending on the individual situation.

FDA pregnancy class X drugs should not be taken while pregnant because the risks obviously outweigh the benefits of the medication.

Birth Defect Lawsuits

If your baby is born with a birth defect and you were prescribed one or more medications during your pregnancy, you might be eligible for financial compensation. To learn more, please contact a birth defect lawyer today. We will review your case for free and let you know how we can help you.


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