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Dangerous Drugs and Birth Defects

By lladmin on January 20, 2024

Nothing is more important than the health of your child. A developing fetus is directly connected to the mother’s body, and anything that impacts the mother may harm the child. That’s why it’s so important for doctors to provide appropriate prenatal care during pregnancy.

Doctors must be aware of the health risks associated with the drugs they prescribe, and pharmacists must take precautions to prevent filing a prescription that could injure a patient or their unborn child. Serious birth defects occur when doctors or pharmacists fail to uphold their duty of care.

Children who suffer birth defects caused by drugs that were prescribed to the mother during pregnancy often undergo costly medical interventions and may require a lifetime of medical treatment and in-home care.

Drugs That Cause Birth Defects

It’s very common for doctors to treat women using prescription drugs during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 59 percent of pregnant women are prescribed medications other than vitamins or mineral supplements.

There is a large body of clinical research linking various prescription drugs with birth defects. That’s why it’s crucial for doctors to carefully review all the possible side effects before prescribing drugs to anyone, especially women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. It’s important to remember that certain drugs continue to cause fetal health risks for years after the patient stops taking them.

Drugs that are known to cause health risks for the developing fetus include:

  • Antibiotics used to treat infections can cause skull deformation, heart defects, and cleft lip. Antibiotics that have been linked to birth defects include sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin, and tetracycline antibiotics. Brand names include Vibramycin and Doryx (doxycycline hyclate), SOLODYN (minocycline hydrochloride), Monodox (doxycycline monohydrate), Bactrim or Septra (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim), and ORACEA (doxycycline).
  • Anticonvulsants are used to treat epilepsy, eating disorders, migraines, and seizures. They may cause cleft lips, lung abnormalities, developmental delays, limb abnormalities, neural tube defects, organ abnormalities, and cleft palate. Anticonvulsants linked to birth defects include Dilantin, Depakote, Lamictal, Topamax, Topiramate, and Tegretol.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat pain and inflammation and reduce high body temperatures. These drugs can cause neural tube defects, amniotic band syndrome, and spinal bifida. NSAIDs linked to birth defects include Lodine (etodolac), Mobic (meloxicam), and Voltaren (diclofenac).
  • Accutane, used to treat acne, causes an alarmingly high rate of birth defects, including eye problems, developmental disabilities, cleft palate, hearing problems, and heart defects. Women are advised to stop taking Accutane at least three years before getting pregnant.
  • Antidepressants, also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat depression, insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Antidepressants can cause cleft lip, limb abnormalities, muscle control problems, abdominal abnormalities, respiratory problems, heart defects, and pulmonary hypertension. Antidepressants that have been linked to birth defects include Paxil, Lexapro, Fluvoxamine, Symbyax, Zoloft, and Prozac.
  • Benzodiazepine medications, used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and seizures and promote muscle relaxation, may cause preterm births, cardiac malformation, poor muscle control, problems regulating body temperature, breathing difficulties, and cleft palate. Benzodiazepine medications linked to birth defects include Chlordiazepoxide, Xanax, and Diazepam.
  • Fluconazole is an antifungal medication used to treat yeast infections, meningitis, and candidiasis. Fluconazole has been linked to congenital heart disease, femoral bowing, cleft palate, and brachycephaly.

Who Is Liable for Birth Defects Caused by Prescription Medications?

It’s important for doctors to use caution when prescribing medications to pregnant women. Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) must be aware of the standard of care for prescribing medications to a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant.

Medical professionals who cause injuries by failing to uphold the standard of care may be held liable for medical malpractice. Liable parties may include:

Is Your Child Suffering from Birth Defects?

Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. has been getting justice for families harmed by medical malpractice for over 40 years, and we have won record-breaking verdicts for our clients. We will investigate your case and advise you on the best strategy for moving forward.

The Denver medical malpractice attorneys at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. have been recognized by the independent law firm rating agencies Avvo and Super Lawyers for providing outstanding service to our clients.

There is no charge for your initial consultation—give us a call at (303) 759-9945 to learn more today.

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Posted in: Medical Malpractice