Zoloft Birth Defects

Septal birth defects are a type of congenital heart condition that has been associated with Zoloft, an anti-anxiety medication. According to a 2007 British Medical Journal study, women who took Zoloft during their first trimester of pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a septal birth defect.

The study also found that the number of septal birth defects found in babies increased from 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent in mothers who began taking Zoloft or other anti-anxiety medications during their first three months of pregnancy.
Atrial Septal Defect

An atrial septal defect is a condition that creates an opening in the wall of the chambers of the heart, or atria. Symptoms may vary depending on the location and size of the defect.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Infections and difficulties with the lungs
  • Lack of proper growth

If the defect is not treated or diagnosed after birth, complications may increase or appear as the child develops. Symptoms such as abnormal heart rhythm and difficulty pumping blood may occur.
Ventricular Septal Defect

A ventricular septal defect also involves a hole or opening in the heart but is located in the lower chambers of the heart, or ventricles. This defect allows blood from the left ventricle to flow through the hole and into the right ventricle, which creates a noise known as a heart murmur.

Symptoms associated with ventricular septal defects include:

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Tire easily
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bluish tint to fingernails, lips or skin
  • Swelling
  • Fast breathing

Although doctors may recognize the symptoms of a septal birth defect through a physical examination, this condition may not be detected for several years.
Septal Defect Complications

Children or adults diagnosed with septal defects may be at risk for developing the following complications:

  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Pulmonary over-circulation

Patients with a small defect may not require treatment. The opening in the heart may be closed through surgical procedures if symptoms occur or if the defect is large.

Zoloft is a commonly prescribed medication that treats anxiety disorders and has been connected with increasing the risk of birth defects in infants whose mothers took the medication during pregnancy.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Medicine in June 2009, Zoloft was linked to congenital heart defects including atrial septal defect (ASD) and ventricular septal defect (VSD). These conditions are characterized by a hole in the chambers of the heart. The study found that when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, Zoloft doubled infants’ risk of developing the disease.

A life-threatening condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension has also been connected to Zoloft treatments. The condition causes high pressure in blood vessels in the lungs and has been found to be six times more common in infants whose mothers took Zoloft during pregnancy than those who did not.

Women who took Zoloft while pregnant and experienced complications may wish to talk to a lawyer about their legal options.



Babies typically show symptoms of ASD or VSD during the first few weeks or months after birth. Common symptoms include:

  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Swelling of the feet, legs or abdomen
  • Heart murmur
  • Bluish color of skin, lips or fingernails
  • Lung infections
  • Fatigue
  • Poor eating
  • Rapid heart rate

Symptoms may vary and may not be detected for years or until heart failure or shortness of breath occur.
Persistent pulmonary hypertension

Persistent pulmonary hypertension is a serious disorder of the lungs that causes the arteries to constrict, which strains blood flow through vessels.

Symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Bluish lips and skin
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Shortness of breath caused by activity

This condition may be diagnosed through a physical exam and through other testing methods.

A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Zoloft and other SSRI medications can cause a six-fold increase in the risk of omphalocele, a birth defect characterized by the growth of an infant’s intestines or other abdominal organs outside of the body.

In 2009, a study of nearly 500,000 children conducted by researchers in Denmark revealed that the use of SSRI medications such as Zoloft during pregnancy can nearly double the risk of certain congenital heart defects in newborns. Septal heart defects, commonly described as a “hole in the heart,” have been linked to Zoloft use during pregnancy, as the medication can interfere with the development of the wall that divides the left and right ventricles of the heart.

If you experienced side effects following the use of Zoloft during pregnancy and wish to speak with a lawyer about compensation and legal options, please fill out the form on this page.

Serious Zoloft Side Effects

If Zoloft is taken in combination with medications known as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, a serious and potentially-fatal reaction may result in the following symptoms:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Involuntary muscle movements Hot, dry skin
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Coma

Seizures and suicidal thoughts have also been linked to Zoloft treatment in some cases.

Other possible side effects of Zoloft include:

  • Weight loss
  • Ejaculation problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased libido
  • Loss of appetite

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