Celexa (generic: citalopram hydrobromide) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class drug that has been found to increase the risk of serious heart rhythm problems when taken at high doses. Studies have additionally linked use of this anti-depressant during pregnancy to serious birth defects. SSRI drugs, which also include Zoloft and Prozac, are typically prescribed to treat depression and other mood disorders.
Celexa Birth Defects
Numerous SSRIs, including Celexa, have been linked to a risk of serious and potentially life threatening birth defects when used during pregnancy. One of the most serious defects linked to the drugs is persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN). This disorder causes the newborn’s arteries that lead to the lungs to stay constricted after delivery, limiting the amount of blood flow to the lungs and therefore the amount of oxygen into the bloodstream.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a public health advisory in 2006 about the risk of SSRI side effects on infants when taken after the 20th week of pregnancy, including a six-fold increase in the risk of the child having PPHN.
In addition, a study published by the British Medical Journal in September 2009 identified an increased risk of heart defects with Celexa and other SSRI anti-depressants when the medications are taken in the first trimester. Previously, SSRI use was thought to be harmless so early in a pregnancy.
New FDA Warning
In August 2011, the FDA issued an alert recommending lowering the daily dosage of Celexa to no more than 40mg, from the previous recommendation of 60mg per day. The higher dosage was found to cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart, particularly in patients with low levels of potassium and magnesium. These changes in electrical activity can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, which can be fatal.
If you were prescribed an SSRI and your baby was born with PPHN or another birth defect, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options.