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Birth defects allegedly caused by antidepressant

The excitement of having a new child can all too often be diminished by concerns for the child's health. Maryland parents know that Newborn babies are vulnerable to a number of health problems. But when a health concern derives from something that could have been prevented, it is incredibly difficult on parents and the family.

The mother of a seven-year-old has filed a lawsuit alleging that her daughter suffered a birth defect due to the negligence of Pfizer. The mother claims that she was prescribed Zoloft, manufactured by Pfizer, during pregnancy for her depression and as a result of the drug her child was born with a malformed anal opening.

The suit, brought in her daughter's name, alleges that her daughter's birth defect has been associated with Zoloft use during pregnancy. It alleges that the girl's mother was prescribed Zoloft prior to her pregnancy and continued taking the drug after being told it was safe to do so. In 2005, her daughter was born a month premature. Since birth, she has required a number of medical procedures to treat her birth defects, which include a narrow large intestine, rectum and anal canal. She will require lifelong medical care as a result.

This lawsuit alleges that the drug manufacturer marketed the drug negligently to pregnant women, though data from as early as the 1990s showed that it may not be entirely safe. Pfizer, then, should have known, or did know, that the drug was dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children. It also claims that Pfizer failed to adequately warn the public, physicians and the federal Food and Drug Administration the defects associated with the drug's use.

The suit seeks unspecified economic, noneconomic and punitive damages and is expected to be consolidated with nearly 200 other birth defect cases pending against Pfizer in federal multidistrict litigation.

Source: Register Guard, "Family files suit over drug's effects," Karen McCowan, Dec. 10, 2012.

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