New imaging research has linked antidepressants such as Zoloft to Chiara type 1 brain malformations in children whose mothers used the drugs during pregnancy. The brain malformations occur when cerebellum tissue extends into the spinal column and can cause headaches and balance issues severe enough to require corrective surgery.
Nearly 20% of the children born to women who used Zoloft while pregnant showed signs of the brain malformation, compared to 2% of children born to women who did not use the antidepressant. Zoloft has been linked to several other severe birth defects in children, including other brain defects, heart defects, omphalocele (organs protruding from the belly button) and other congenital birth defects.
Zoloft is an antidepressant in a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which comprise some of the most-prescribed drugs in the world. Pfizer is facing multiple Zoloft lawsuits alleging that the antidepressant caused severe birth defects, and that the company failed to warn doctors and patients of the increased risk of birth defects associated with Zoloft.