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Atrial Septal Defect

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall that separates the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. It is a congenital (present at birth) defect that, if small, may close on its own in infancy or early childhood.

A large or persistent ASD can damage the heart and lungs. This occurs because oxygen-rich blood leaks from the left to the right side of the heart. Then, it travels back to the lungs, resulting in a significant increase in the oxygen that goes to the lungs. Normally, only low-oxygen blood would be pumped to the lungs, so that it can become re-oxygenated. If this continues, a shunt may form and pressure in the lungs will build up.

Causes

Anti-depressants: Extensive research has linked maternal use of anti-depressants to an increased risk of congenital heart defects. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, babies who were exposed to certain anti-depressants in utero face a nearly tripled risk of developing septal defects compared to unexposed babies. The anti-depressants linked to this and other birth defects may include:

Effexor, a similar anti-depressant, is also being researched for possible link to an increased risk of septal defects.

Depakote: Prenatal exposure to the anti-epilepsy drug Depakote may increase the likelihood of an infant developing an atrial septal defect, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Babies exposed to Depakote have a 2.5 times increased risk of developing an ASD.

Clomid: Babies born to women who took the fertility drug Clomid while pregnant are 1.5 times more likely to develop a septal heart defect, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the Human Reproduction journal.

Painkillers: The use of opioid painkillers just before or during pregnancy has been shown to increase the likelihood of the baby developing heart defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study that linked the development of congenital heart defects, including atrial septal defect, to prenatal exposure to opioid painkillers including:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone

Treatment

The atrial septal defect is one of the least complex congenital heart defects. It was one of the first types to be repaired surgically. A small ASD may close naturally. Thankfully, larger ASD may now be closed with a catheter procedure that does not involve open-heart surgery. Untreated large ASD may cause disability or complication by middle age.

Your Baby’s Rights

If your baby was born with an atrial septal defect that may have been caused by exposure to prescription drugs before birth, your family deserves financial compensation. No amount of money will change what happened to your baby. Compensation will help offset the current and future medical costs. It will also provide for the pain and suffering you and your baby have experienced. Filing a claim will also teach the manufacturers of unsafe pharmaceuticals that it is unacceptable to not warn parents of the risks associated with these drugs, especially serious birth defects. Your suit may even prevent other families from suffering as yours has. Your suit forces the pharmaceutical company to change their drug’s label to warn parents of the potential risks.

Contact Us

You may be eligible for compensation to ease the financial burden associated with your baby’s injury. Contact us today to set up a free consultation, during which we will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have and discuss your legal rights and options. If you choose for us to represent you, we will work with you on a contingency fee basis; this means you pay nothing until we have secured compensation for you, either through a jury verdict or settlement.

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