What Is Lexapro?
Lexapro, which is also known as Escitalopram, is an antidepressant medication which belongs to a drug group known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It is used to treat chemicals in the brain which may become unbalanced and can cause anxiety or depression in patients. It is used to treat anxiety in adults and has been prescribed to millions of people across the world. The recommended dosage of Lexapro is 10mg once a day for adults. It can be increased to 20mg after a week if a doctor advises that this would be of benefit to the patient.
Lexaco And Pregnancy
After studies were conducted recently, a link to Lexapro birth defects (and other antidepressants) was discovered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified Lexapro as Pregnancy Class C but despite the risks of newborn baby birth defects, the drug is still being prescribed to women that are pregnant. There have been some studies that have exposed Lexapro side effects and these include the risk of such birth defects as cleft palates and lips, congenital heart defects and craniosynostosis which is a birth defect that causes one or more of the baby’s head sutures to close earlier than they should.
In July 2006 the FDA alerted women to the dangers associated with taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy through a Health Advisory. The advisory was published based on the findings of a New England Journal of Medicine study that found that pregnant women that had taken antidepressants similar to Lexapro in the second half of their pregnancy term were up to 6 times more likely to give birth to a newborn with Persistant Pulmonary Hypertension than women who had not taken antidepressants in the second half of their pregnancies.
The Lexapro website has an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section at lexapro.com and states “There have been no studies done to show that Lexapro is safe to use in pregnant women. Therefore, Lexapro should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the unborn child.”
Side Effects Of Lexapro
A number of studies have been undertaken to examine the side effects of taking antidepressant drugs, like Lexapro, during pregnancy. The suggested side effects of taking Lexapro while pregnant are:
Pulmonary Stenosis. This is where a narrowing of the pulmonary valve occurs that restricts the blood flow to the lungs.
Coarction of the aorta. In this defect the baby’s aorta is too narrow which results in blood flow being uneven throughout the body. Medical intervention including surgery is often required to correct coarction of the aorta.
Great Arteries Transposition. Also known as “great vessels transposition” this occurs when the pulmonary artery and aorta that transport blood away from the heart are reversed. This often results in a lack of oxygen in the blood and usually requires recovery surgery.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. This is where the baby’s left side of the heart, which includes the aorta, mitral valve and left ventricle, is not properly developed. Sudden death can result from this disorder. A heart transplant or other major surgery may be required to ensure the baby survives and further surgery in late life may also be required.
Tetralogy of Fallot. This consists of 4 components which are the thickening of the right ventricle, the narrowing of the pulmonary valve, a dilated aorta connected to the left and right ventricles and a large ventricular septal defect. The combination of these often results in the baby’s blood not receiving sufficient oxygen from the lungs before it travels throughout the body and surgery may be required.
Septal Defect. This is where a hole in the wall of the baby’s heart develops resulting in poor blood circulation meaning that the heart has to pump harder than normal. This could require open heart surgery to correct the problem.
Other possible Lexapro birth defects include:
Club Foot. This is where the blood vessels, joints, muscles and bones in a baby’s foot and leg have abnormalities. This needs to be treated to prevent problems with mobility and pain. Club foot can affect one or both of the feet and usually presents with the foot turned downward and inward.
Craniosynostosis. This is where sutures in the baby’s skull harden before they are supposed to. It can occur in one or more sutures. This can lead to intracranial pressure, a lack of growth in the child’s head as they age and a misshapen skull.
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension. This is where the blood flow to the lungs is constricted which in turn restricts the oxygen in the blood stream. This can lead to death. Heart transplants are often required in surviving patients.
Cleft Palate. This is where separate parts of the skull that go to form the roof of the mouth do not join together properly and a cleft is the result. A cleft palate can cause difficulties with breathing, feeding and speech and can also cause hearing loss and ear infections.
Cleft Lip. This affects the baby’s upper lip and creates a facial defect. This can be either a partial cleft which leaves a small indent in the lip or a full cleft which is a large groove that runs from the upper lip to the nose. Cleft lip can cause speech delays and other language difficulties.
If you or a member of your family took Lexapro while pregnant and had a child who suffered from birth defects then you could be entitled to compensation. You need to contact competent Lexapro lawyers who can help evaluate your case. By using experienced Lexapro attorneys you will increase your chances of filing a successful claim.