Parents May Win Compensation in Xanax Lawsuit
Pregnancy is known to cause anxiety in many moms. Some may have financial worries, or wonder about their ability to care for a baby. Still others may battle mental and brain disorders that make anxiety during pregnancy even more difficult.
Mothers prescribed anti-anxiety medication Xanax (alprazolam) may be warned by their doctors about potential Xanax birth defects. But those taking Xanax together with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant may not be warned of a new risk for heart defects or persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (PPHN). Such cases of combined Xanax birth defects may be viable in a Xanax lawsuit.
Xanax Birth Defects
The FDA classifies Xanax as a Category D drug, which means that both human and animal studies have shown that the medication can harm a fetus. Early studies indicated that moms taking alprazolam during the first trimester could face an increased risk of giving birth to a child with cleft lip and palate, heart defects, and other malformations. Moms who took drugs like Xanax during their third trimester seemed to have an even higher risk of having children who experience withdrawal symptoms or Xanax birth defects like floppy infant syndrome.
Other studies showed an increased rate of induced and spontaneous abortions in moms taking the drug, as well as pre-term and low-weight births. Whether or not Xanax might cause developmental or behavioral problems later in life is still unknown, but studies indicate that Xanax use during lactation can cause lethargy, sedation, and weight loss in infants.
Concern about SSRI Birth Defects
Recent studies have raised concern about the potential link between SSRI antidepressants and birth defects. In fact, the FDA released a warning about it in 2006, after research found a link between the use of SSRI antidepressants and birth defects like PPHN. Additional studies found that the use of SSRIs during the first trimester could increase the risk of heart defects, abdominal defects and cranial defects.
While Xanax is not an SSRI, it is sometimes prescribed at the same time as an SSRI antidepressant, to help a mother battle not only depression, but anxiety. While an SSRI works to increase the amount of available serotonin (a “feel-good” transmitter) in the brain, Xanax works to calm excitable emotions by slowing down the movement of certain chemicals in the brain. Since Xanax is already associated with some birth defects, the recent studies on SSRIs raise the concern that additional birth defects—like heart defects—could be related to Xanax as well. In fact, research has already found that combining SSRIs with Xanax increases the danger to the fetus.
SSRIs Combined with Xanax Increased Risk of CHD
A study published in 2008 examined prenatal exposure to SSRIs alone and in combination with benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax. They looked at a large database of over 100,000 live births over a 39-month period, and found a higher incidence of congenital heart disease (CHD) in infants exposed to the combination of Xanax and SSRIs. The risk was associated with mothers who took the medication combination during the first trimester.