Birth Defects Caused by Medications

Serving Clients in Birmingham, Shelby County, and throughout Alabama

At no time is a child more vulnerable to dangerous prescription drugs than during development in the mother’s womb. In order for a child to develop properly, a precise sequence of chemical triggers must be activated; unfortunately, a number of medications can interfere with these triggers and contribute to various types of physical and mental birth defects. Often, the impacts these drugs can have on developing infants are inadequately studied before the drugs are marketed, or are prescribed to pregnant women without sufficient safety warnings.

If your child was born with a birth defect caused by a prescription drug you took during pregnancy, the child may require long-term medical care, and you may be able to seek compensation from the pharmaceutical company to help cover the resulting expenses. To learn more about your rights and legal options, please call the injury attorneys at Jonathan W. Gathings & Associates at 205-545-7475 for your free consultation; our knowledgeable and compassionate lawyers welcome clients from the greater Birmingham area and throughout Alabama.

Birth Defects Associated with Drugs

It is important to distinguish birth defects from birth injuries, which are the result of negligence by healthcare providers in the pre-delivery, labor or post-childbirth stages. Birth defects develop during pregnancy and may be caused by genetic factors or a mother’s use of certain medications.

Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death. Newborns who survive birth defects often need significant medical care for life, and many are unable to fully mature and function independently. Examples of serious birth defects that have been linked to certain prescription drugs include:

  • Anencephalopathy
  • Heart defects
  • Limb defects
  • Neural tube defects
  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft lip
  • Autism

Children may suffer from multiple birth defects.

Medication Use among Pregnant Women

According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of prescription medication by pregnant women during the first trimester has increased more than 60 percent over the past 30 years, while the use of four or more medications has tripled; antidepressant use during the first trimester has also increased dramatically.

In fact, according to the CDC, at least 50 percent of pregnant women were taking at least one prescription medication during the first trimester. The risk of birth defects caused by some prescription drugs is heightened by the fact that women are often not counseled about the risk of birth defects associated with many drugs.

Drugs Linked to Birth Defects

Drugs commonly used by pregnant women that have been linked to birth defects include:

  • SSRIs: This class of antidepressants includes Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac and Zoloft, and can contribute to physical defects of the heart, lungs and abdominal wall, as well as craniofacial malformation and limb malformation
  • PPIs: These prescription antacids, which include Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, have been associated with an increased risk of cardiac birth defects
  • Accutane: This treatment for severe acne may lead to heart defects, facial malformation, glandular dysfunction and central nervous system dysfunction
  • Statins: Cholesterol-controlling drugs such as Crestor can cause a number of severe birth defects and should not be used during pregnancy
  • Depakote: This anti-epilepsy medication has been tied to mental defects

If your child was born with a birth defect that may have been caused by a prescription medication, it’s important to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at Jonathan W. Gathings & Associates have a special passion for and extensive experience in cases involving injured children, and we treat every client as a member of our own family.

Please contact Jonathan W. Gathings & Associates today for your free consultation. Our lawyers are proud to help injury victims and their families from the Birmingham area, throughout Shelby County and Jefferson County, and across Alabama.