Birth Defects Caused by Medications What You Need to Know

Birth Defects Caused by Medications: What You Need to Know

Some drugs are not safe for pregnant mothers to take – but in some cases, mothers still take them because they’re prescribed by a physician. Unfortunately, those same medications can cause birth defects. If you were given a medication that’s unsafe for pregnant mothers that caused your child to suffer an adverse reaction or a birth defect, you may have a product liability lawsuit on your hands. Here’s what you need to know.

Birth Defects Caused by Medications: What You Need to Know

Everything that goes into your body has some kind of an effect on it, whether good or bad. The foods you eat, the water you drink, and the medications you take all effect some type of change in your body. Some things, like over-the-counter pain relievers, are generally considered safe for pregnant mothers and their babies. However, some drugs are known to be harmful to children in utero. Certainly things like tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs have the potential to harm an unborn child – but what about prescriptions?

Many prescription drugs can also have harmful effects on babies. Some of them lead to permanent birth defects.

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Examples of Drugs Known to Cause Birth Defects

Some of the most commonly prescribed drugs that scientists know can lead to birth defects include:

  • Accutane
  • Some antibiotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Diflucan
  • SSRIs

Here’s a closer look at each.

Accutane Can Cause Birth Defects

Accutane is typically used to treat acne, but it’s not safe for pregnant mothers to take. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns women not to take Accutane if they’re pregnant or even have a chance of becoming pregnant soon – and they should not breastfeed their children if they took it before pregnancy. In the FDA’s warning, it says, “Major human fetal abnormalities related to Accutane administration in females have been documented. There is an increased risk of spontaneous abortion. In addition, premature births have been reported.”

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Some Antibiotics Can Cause Birth Defects

Antibiotics are very common – and many are very safe. In fact, most antibiotics are safe for use during pregnancy (including penicillin). However, two types of antibiotics are known for causing birth defects: sulfa drugs (sulfoanimides) and nitrofurantoins. Sulfa drugs and nitrofurantoins can cause cardiovascular abnormalities, cleft palate or cleft lip, neural tube defects and urinary tract abnormalities. These two types of antibiotics are sometimes prescribed for common urinary tract infections in mothers.

Benzodiapenes Can Cause Birth Defects

Benzodiapenes can be used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, sleeplessness and a wide range of other conditions. They include brand names like Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and Valium, as well as others – and although researchers are still studying these effects, several studies have shown that using them during pregnancy may increase your child’s risk for cleft lip or cleft palate.

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Diflucan Can Cause Birth Defects

Diflucan is a common prescription for yeast infections. Some studies have shown that women who use Diflucan during pregnancy are approximately 50 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth than women who did not take it – and there may be an increased risk for brachycephaly and cleft palate, as well.

SSRIs Can Cause Birth Defects

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are very common prescription drugs. They’re used to treat depression, panic disorder, anxiety and a handful of other conditions. They’re often prescribed as Zoloft, Proxac, Paxil and Lexapro, as well as other names you may recognize. However, the FDA issued a public warning that babies born to mothers who take SSRIs are at an increased risk of pulmonary hypertension, a condition that affects blood flow to the infant’s lungs during delivery, limb abnormalities, cleft lip and cleft palate, heart defects, neural tube defects and other conditions.

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Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Birth Defects Caused by Medications?

If you suspect your child has suffered because you took a prescription or over-the-counter drug during pregnancy, you may have legal recourse. We will be happy to evaluate your case – just call us for a free consultation at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below.


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