Every pregnancy starts out with a 3–5 percent chance of having a birth defect.For many years, certain anti-seizure/anticonvulsant and antidepressant medications have been associated with a higher risk of birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Some of these defects include: 

  • Cardiac defects
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN) 
  • Neural tube defects,
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Anal atresia
  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Limb malformations

If your family experienced the trauma of a birth defect caused by prescription medication, the compassionate legal team at Peterson & Associates, P.C. in Kansas City may be able to help.

Prescription Drugs That May Cause Birth Defects

The National Institutes of Health notes that “every pregnancy starts out with a 3–5 percent chance of having a birth defect.” But as every mother knows, anything you can do to ensure the health of your child is worth the effort. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies pharmaceutical drugs with the Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule (PLLR), released in 2015, which identifies medication with possible risks to unborn children. New studies emerge all the time, but here are some of the current brand-name anti-seizure/anticonvulsant and antidepressant medications linked to potential birth defects: 

  • Depakote®
  • Keppra®
  • Topamax®
  • Trileptal®
  • Ativan®
  • Zoloft®
  • Paxil® 
  • Celexa®
  • Lexapro®
  • Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

When Might You Have a Medication-Related Birth Defect Case?

First, your legal team has to establish liability. The manufacturers for these brands have already issued what’s known as a “black box” warning—a clear statement of potential birth defect risks included in side effect materials and on brand websites. 

Additionally, the FDA’s PLLR classification system also still references its previous pregnancy letter risk categorization. For example, Topamax® falls in Pregnancy Category D, meaning that there is clear evidence of birth defects risks to human fetuses; and as of 2021, the agency also listed “Fetal Toxicity: use during pregnancy can cause cleft lip and/or palate and being small for gestational age” as a label warning. 

So a medication-related lawsuit for birth defects will most likely trace the line of liability to a physician. For example, if a physician continued to prescribe a pregnant woman a medication known to cause birth defects, they may be held accountable for any complications.

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