What Are Paxil Birth Defects?


GlaxoSmithKline introduced their antidepressant Paxil to the market in 1992. Since then it has enjoyed billion dollar annual sales keeping people from feeling the effects of depression. Upon introduction, the general side effects were well known from clinical trials: insomnia, confusion, fainting, the list goes on. However, the list has grown since then.

Paxil (Paroxetine) is what’s known as a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (SSRI), which inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, a naturally occurring enzym produced in the body that gives a pleasant sense of well-being.

Oddly, one of the major problem side effects found years after the introduction of Paxil was suicidal thoughts and suicide ideation, which is particularly problematic with adolescent patients. Glaxo was remiss in adequately testing the drug on adolescent patients before adding that group to eligible recipients. That oversight may have caused some potentially deadly behavior. Now, another more fragile group is living with some life long consequences.

Paxil Birth Defects

It was only in the last decade that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became aware of the potential connection between Paxil and a veritable laundry list of birth defects. This is due to the common presence of depression in pregnant women, but, like with the suicidal ideation side effect, there potentially was inadequate testing before introduction to pregnant women. Now, there is a much larger population of victims who are living with the consequences of Glaxo oversights for a lifetime.

Paxil Birth Defects Include:

Anal Atresia – The child’s anus is either non-existent or placed in the wrong place on the body. Males can have the anus connect to the wrong organ such as the large intestine or the bladder, girls can have their anus grow as part of their vagina or also connect to their bladders. This requires major surgery.

Anencephely – This is a common neural tube defect that obstructs the development of the brain. Either the brain does not exist in the child at all or there is not adequate development that the permits the child to exist with any semblance of normality. There is no treatment.Cleft lip or palate – This very common birth defect that is a result in the lack of adequate tissue to form the roof of the mouth and upper lip. This results in the child having serious eating and breathing problems. They are also prone to infection if not properly treated. Surgery (both oral and cosmetic) is required to remedy this ailment.

Clubfoot – Clubfoot is a relatively common birth defect and is usually an isolated problem for an otherwise healthy newborn. Clubfoot happens when the baby is born with a foot that is twisted out of shape or position. Treatment is uncomfortable and potentially painful to the child, but fixable depending on the severity of the defect.

Coarctation of the aorta – The aorta is underdeveloped, where as part of the aorta is narrowed. This makes it hard for blood to pass through the artery resulting in inadequate blood flow to the rest of the body leading to serious arterial consequences later in life if not detected. A stint can be placed to widen the area and depending on the severity, grafting has been required.

Congenital Heart Defects – These are defects in the structure of the heart that present themselves at birth. They may be minor or may require a total heart transplant. Regardless, this defect requires major surgery.

Craniosynostosis – The head develops in a series of sutures in the bone. If they connect or develop to soon then the result could be the child having an odd shaped head. Treatment must be done at birth while the child’s head is still malleable in order to create proper room for the brain to grow, to relieve pressure, and perhaps fix some of the shape.

Infant Omphalocele – The abdominal muscles of the baby don’t properly develop leaving them unable to adequately contain the intestines causing the organs to pop out of the belly button. This is generally accompanied by other serious defects and is left for the child to develop more defined abdominal muscles, then surgery is done to adhere the muscles and do cosmetic reconstruction.

Lung Defects – There are many types of lung defects from blood flow, to deformity, to underdevelopment. These are addressed separately with varying treatments that can be resolved through incubator or surgery, however, the child may have breathing problems for the rest of their lives.

Patent ductus arteriosus – A blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus fails to close normally (“patent” means open). Soon after the infant is born and the lungs fill with air, this blood vessel is no longer needed. It will usually close within a couple of days. If the ductus arteriosus does not close, there will be abnormal blood circulation between the heart and lungs. Treatment involves inserting a catheter to drain the blood and waiting to see if it closes later. If it doesn’t, surgery may be required.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) – The newborn’s circulation has not made the normal transition from fetal circulation to normal newborn circulation. Similar to patent ductus ateriosus above, fetal blood vessel does not close. PPHN causes the blood to be directed away from the lungs and resulting in birth asphyxia due to dangerously low oxygen levels. Even if this is averted, the baby is still in serious danger of infection. Surgery is required in serious cases.

Spina bifida (Myelomeningocele) – During the first month of a pregnancy, the two sides of the spine join together to cover the spinal cord, spinal nerves and the tissues covering the spinal cord. Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. This requires major surgery, physical theraly for the child, and potentially special aparatus.

National Paxil Attorneys

Parents who have dealt with a sick infant or the death of their newborn can tell you that it is one of the hardest things a person can go through in their lifetime and can result in broken families and broken lives. It’s made worse when their child’s birth defects or developmental problems were related to Paxil and they weren’t properly informed of the dangers.

If you have found that you or a loved one has had a child with a birth defect and they were taking Paxil during pregnancy, they may be entitled to Paxil compensation. It is important that you contact legal council that has experience in protecting patients from giant pharmaceutical companies. Call Phillips Law for a consultation on your legal options.