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Septal Defects

According to a 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, women who use the antidepressant Zoloft during pregnancy are twice as likely to give birth to a child with septal defects as non-users. Although these heart defects are often correctable through surgery, they can cause a number of serious side effects if left untreated.

Septal defects are holes between two chambers of the heart that are present from birth. These congenital birth defects can be found in two varieties: atrial septal defects (ASD), in which the holes are found between the heart’s upper chambers, and ventricular septal defects (VSD), which affect the lower chambers.

In a normally developed heart, blood enters into the heart through the right atrium and is subsequently transferred into to the right ventricle, where it is sent to the lungs by way of the pulmonary artery. After being enriched with oxygen in the lungs, the blood returns to the heart, traveling from the left atrium to the left ventricle, where it is pumped by way of the aorta to the rest of the body.

Top: Tiny holes in the wall (septum) that divides the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). Bottom: A hole in the wall (septum) that divides the upper chambers of the heart (atria).

In children who are born with ASD or VSD, the holes between the chambers of the heart allow oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. The extra volume from this oxygenated blood can overfill the lungs and cause the heart to have to work harder to pump blood. If left untreated, this can cause the heart to become enlarged and weaken or raise blood pressure in the lungs, leading to pulmonary hypertension.

While many children with septal defects do not display any signs of their condition, some indicators that a baby may have ASD or VSD include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bluish color to the skin (cyanosis)
  • Rapid heart rate or breathing
  • Swollen legs, feet or abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Poor eating
  • Failure to thrive

Although smaller septal defects may close on their own, for children with larger holes between the walls of their heart, treatment is often necessary to prevent further complications. In additions to surgery or catheter procedures, your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat your child’s septal defect.

If you or a loved one used Zoloft while pregnant and gave birth to a child with atrial septal defects or ventricular septal defects, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about Zoloft, contact the lawyers at Hissey Kientz, LLP by calling toll-free at 1-866-275-4454, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.

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