Birth Defects from Medications
Most people are aware that substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs can have a harmful effect on a pregnancy. However, over-the-counter and prescription medications can also be dangerous. Certain medications can have long-term effects on a child in utero, and may even result in birth defects.
Since many women are not aware of which drugs are safe for use during pregnancy and which are not, it is up to medical professionals to protect her. The defective drug attorneys at Reed & Terry, L.L.P., serving Sugar Land, TX, Katy, TX, and Richmond, TX, can represent women that have been prescribed medications known to cause birth defects.
Is Taking Medication during Pregnancy Safe?
It is not unusual for women to take medication while they are pregnant. Pregnancies often cause a number of uncomfortable side effects, including morning sickness, heartburn, and general discomfort. There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications that are completely safe to use throughout pregnancy to treat these conditions and others. A woman should not feel guilty or concerned about taking medication while pregnant, provided she has cleared it with her doctor.
Unfortunately, while there are many medications that are safe for pregnant women, there are others that can cause harm to a pregnant woman or a developing fetus. It is helpful for our patients to be aware of some of the medications that are known to cause birth defects.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. The FDA has warned that SSRI use by pregnant women increases the risk of their infant developing persistent pulmonary hypertension, or PPHN. This condition affects blood flow to the infant’s lungs during birth and could result in complications that cause long-term cognitive problems, including autism and ADHD.
Benzodiazepines can treat anxiety, sleeping problems, seizures, and muscle spasms. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines are not safe during pregnancy. This class of medications increases the risk of birth defects such as a cleft palate, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, tremors, and withdrawal symptoms for the infant.
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial infections. While most are safe throughout pregnancy, there are certain antibiotics that increase the risk of birth defects. Sulfa drugs have been found to cause birth defects such as brain and heart problems and shortened limbs. Another type of antibiotic, nitrofurantoins, can cause heart problems and cleft palate.
Accutane, which is used to treat acne, is not advised for pregnant women. Its potential effects are so dangerous that even if a woman used Accutane prior to becoming pregnant, it is recommended that she not breastfeed. Accutane has been linked to severe birth defects, including heart defects, facial dysmorphism, eye abnormalities, cleft palate, malformations of the central nervous system, and intellectual disabilities.
Birth Defects and Medical Malpractice
When prescribing medications, medical professionals should be thoroughly aware of their patient’s health, medical history, and any potential areas of concern. If a woman is pregnant, this should always be considered when recommending or prescribing an appropriate medication.
Women who have been prescribed medication during pregnancy that is known to increase the risk of birth defects have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our attorneys will work hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve for damages related to birth defects, including medical expenses, the cost on ongoing medical care, and pain and suffering.
If your child has suffered a birth defect and you suspect that it was caused by medication use during pregnancy, the attorneys at Reed & Terry, L.L.P. would be happy to help you explore your legal options. Schedule a free case review at your earliest convenience by calling (281) 201-0988.