Birth Defects

Experienced Birth Defect Lawyers

When drug reactions occur during pregnancy, it can cause severe birth defects for the baby in utero. These complications can lead to physical or mental disabilities, delayed development, and other long-term issues.

Sadly, birth defects are the leading cause of death in children during the first year of life. Some birth defects are minor and can be easily treated or cured, while others lead to a lifetime of medical, surgical or nursing care needs.

Your dangerous drug attorneys at Searcy Denney understand the most common birth defects. If you believe your child has suffered as a result of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, contact our firm immediately.

Congenital Abnormalities, Birth Defects and Their Causes

Over the years, a number of drugs, (both prescription and over-the-counter) have been found to cause birth defects and other congenital abnormalities to developing fetuses.

Drugs Linked to Birth Defects And Other Abnormalities

  • ACE inhibitors (enalapril or captopril)
  • Acne medications (such as Accutane, Retin A, and other Vitamin A preparations)
  • Antibiotics (such as tetracycline) and Anti-Fungal medications (such as Diflucan)
  • Anti-Cancer drugs
  • Antidepressants and SSRIs (including Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Pristiq, and Zoloft)
  • Anti-epileptic, anti-convulsant, or seizure medications (such as Depakote, Lamotrigine, Lithium, Topamax, Phenytek, Dilantin, Eptoin, carbamazepine, Tegretol, Carbatrol, and phenytoin sodium)
  • Anti-inflammatories and NSAIDs (including acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and naproxen among others)
  • Blood thinners (such as Coumadin and warfarin)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (including statins)
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (such as Arava or leflunomide)
  • Drugs which reduce folic acid levels (such as methotrexate or aminopterin)
  • Hormone drugs (androgens, testosterone products, estrogens, birth control)
  • Immune-modulating drugs (such as Thalidomide which has been blamed for nearly 20,000 birth defects around the world before it was withdrawn due to its significant teratogeneticity)
  • Sedatives (such as benzodiazepine drugs)

Nearly 150,000 babies are born with birth defects in the United States each year, according to statistics from the March of Dimes.

Recent Case Spotlight: Abbot’s Bipolar & Seizure Treatment Drug, Depakote

As recently as June of 2017, drug maker Abbott Laboratories, Inc., was sued for $15 million for failing to warn doctors about the risk of birth defects for expectant mothers using Depakote. The drug is used to treat manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, seizures and for the prevention of migraine headaches. It can cause a range of birth defects when used at any point during pregnancy, including cleft palate, cleft lip, spina bifida, limb and digital deformities, developmental delays, facial dysmorphism, genitourinary malformations and heart defects.

Has your baby experienced any of the aforementioned birth injuries as a result of your using Depakote without proper knowledge of the risks involved? We can help you understand your rights. Contact the dangerous drug attorneys at Searcy Denney for a free, private legal consultation.


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Prescription Drugs

How Drugs are Rated & Categorized

The FDA requires a great deal of documentation in order for a drug to be included in Category A, such that many drugs are included in Category C due to a lack of extensive pre-marketing testing rather than due to true, documented risks to babies. In other countries, such as Germany and Australia, a higher level of proof required before a drug is placed in Category X (or an equivalent category where a particular drug is contraindicated or, in other words, should not be prescribed under any circumstances to women who are pregnant).

Severity of Pregnancy Risks Associated With Prescription Drugs

In 1979, the Food & Drug Administration categorized medications into 5 categories to help provide patients and prescribing physicians guidance with regard to the level of fetal risk associated with various prescription drugs:

Category A

Clinical studies in humans have failed to demonstrate a risk to the first during the first trimester of pregnancy and there is no evidence of risk in later stages of pregnancy.

Category B

Clinical studies in humans have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women or animal studies have shown an adverse effect but human studies failed to show a risk to the first in any trimester.

Category C

Animal studies have shown a risk to a developing fetus, but that fetal risk has not been established in human studies or has not been studied; prescribing physicians and pregnant women are cautioned to ingest the drug only if the benefits outweigh the risks to the fetus.

Category D

Risks to the fetus have been documented in human studies, such that the drug should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks to the fetus.

Category X

Risks to the fetus have been documented and those risks are so significant that the drugs should not be given to pregnant women.

There are more than 4,000 known birth defects.

Many Drugs Re-Categorized

With mounting evidence of fetal toxicity in recent years, certain drugs have been re-categorized, such as the popular antidepressant Paxil. This failure of pharmaceutical manufacturers to thoroughly test drugs for potential impact on the fetus prior to approval of the drugs for sale by the FDA has led to far too many children being born with significant and preventable birth defects, developmental delays, and a lifetime of personal and financial challenges for these babies and their families.

Risks Associated with Antidepressants

Currently, there is concern about whether other antidepressants which are part of the class of SSRI (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs should join Paxil as a Category D drug, which would discourage the prescription of this medication to most pregnant women.

Currently, the other SSRI drugs (including Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Pristiq, Prozac, and Zoloft) are included in Category C, but there is growing evidence also linking these depression medications to the same birth defects that have been associated with Paxil.

Birth Defects Linked To Paxil

  • Abdominal deformities
  • Omphalocele
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Anal atresia
  • Cardiac or heart defects
    • Coarctation of the aorta, Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Patent ductus arteriosus [PDA], Septal defects, Epstein’s anomaly of the heart valves, Tetralogy of Fallot [TOF], Transposition of the great vessels, Pulmonary atresia, Pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Clubfoot
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Limb defects
  • Neural tube defects
  • Spina bifida
  • PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn)


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Over-The-Counter Drugs During Pregnancy

The risks of birth defects associated with use of over-the-counter drugs is particularly troubling, since many consumers believe that there is little to no risk associated with over-the-counter medications for which a prescription is not required.

Known Risks of OTC Pain Medications

Many popular over-the-counter pain medications are included in FDA Category D;

  • Ibuprofen
  • Advil
  • Motrin
  • Orudis
  • Aleve
  • Naproxen sodium

This comes with strong caution against use in the first two trimesters due to concerns about causing harm to the developing fetus, and a prohibition on use during the third trimester due to evidence that ingestion of these drugs can lead to delivery complications.

Aspirin and Pregnancy

Studies have shown that Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), an often-deadly pulmonary condition where the fetal respiratory system is unable to convert into the respiratory system required to sustain a newborn, is commonly caused by ingestion of a number of over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) by pregnant women. Your Florida birth defect lawyers at Searcy Denney warn that the use of aspirin during the last three months of pregnancy can also lead to complications during delivery.

Speak To An Experienced Birth Defect Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns regarding a pregnancy that resulted in a birth defect or abnormality, speak to an experienced attorney from Searcy Denney.


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The attorneys at Searcy Denney have more than 40 years of experience pursuing success for our clients with over 5 Billion Dollars in case results.


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