Effexor and Birth Defects


Effexor is an antidepressant used to treat many of the most common forms of depression including generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder (MDD). The prescription drug is in the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor family and works to help increase serotonin and norepinephedrine levels to stabilize depression symptoms.

The New England Journal of Medicine released a study in 2007 that suggested a link between Effexor use and miscarriage or birth defects. These defects include major organ deformation and conditions such as:

  • Pulmonary hypertension (PPHN)
  • Cranial defects
  • Heart deformities
  • Abdominal deformities
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate
  • Neural tube defects
  • Anal atresia

These defects often require immediate surgical treatment after birth and can cause lifelong problems for newborn infants.

Studies on Effexor

As a reaction to the study released by the New England Journal of Medicine, the United States Food and Drug Administration released a consumer warning and began requiring SSRI drugs such as Effexor to include mention of the PPHN threat in their labels.

The American Journal of Nursing published a different study in 2010 stating that expecting mothers who were using Effexor and similar medications during their pregnancy were almost two times as likely to birth children with dangerous defects. The study claims that the number of children with heart defects rose from 0.5% to 0.9% after using antidepressants.

An additional study done by the Danish National Birth Cohort has purported to show a possible connection between the use of Effexor during pregnancy and delayed developmental milestones in children. During the study, children of women who took Effexor as a group took longer to sit upright and to walk. The study, researchers say, may point to a possible effect on fetal brain development. While the developmental milestones reached by children of mothers who took Effexor are still within normal ranges, a longer study may be necessary to determine whether the difference between the two groups persists in other areas with age.

Miscarriage Risks

Finally, there is a significant link between the use of Effexor and the likelihood of miscarrying. A study at the University of Montreal revealed that Effexor had one of the highest risks of being associated with a miscarriage out of all the antidepressants studied, and that mothers who took the drug were almost 68% more likely to miscarry than mothers who did not take an antidepressant.

These and other studies have made it clear that this type of prescription drug may be dangerous to consumers and should be used with extreme caution. The birth defects that are related to Effexor can create long-lasting health complications and often require extensive medical procedures to treat. This drug is still currently on the market and the production company has no plans to remove it at this time.

Know Your Legal Options!

Families who have experienced the painful side effects of drugs like Effexor may be able to secure compensation for what they have had to go through. If your family has been adversely affected by Effexor, a competent pharmaceutical attorney may be able to help you determine whether you are eligible to pursue compensation from the manufacturers of this dangerous drug.

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