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Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a congenital (present at birth) heart defect, which occurs when the following four related defects of the heart and its major blood vessels are diagnosed:

  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD): one or more holes in the wall that separates the ventricles
  • Pulmonary stenosis (PS): narrowing of the pulmonary valve and the artery that connect the heart with the lungs
  • Overriding aorta: the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body is shifted over the right ventricle
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy: thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle

In babies with TOF, the blood usually flows from the right to the left ventricles through the VSD, instead of being pumped to the heart to be oxygenated like in a normal heart. Once this under-oxygenated blood flows into the left ventricle, it is delivered to the body where it does not provide the baby’s tissues with the nutrients they need. For this reason, babies with TOF may appear cyanotic or bluish colored. At birth, babies may or may not show signs of cyanosis. However, they may later have sudden episodes of bluish skin (called “Tet spells”) that can occur during crying, feeding or other times.

Causes

Anti-depressants: The maternal use of certain anti-depressants may be associated with a doubled risk of conotruncal heart defects, such as TOF, in exposed infants, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 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 tetralogy of Fallot.

Painkillers: The use of opioid painkillers just before or during pregnancy has been shown to increase the likelihood of a baby developing tetralogy of Fallot by 70 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study that linked the development of TOF to prenatal exposure to opioid painkillers such as:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone

Treatment

Tet spells may be treated with beta-blocker drugs such as propranolol. Surgical treatment to repair TOF must be done when the baby is very young and may require more than one operation. Corrective surgery to widen the pulmonary stenosis and to close the VSD is usually performed in the baby’s first few months of life. If the tetralogy of Fallot occurs with pulmonary atresia (a severe variation), a Blalock-Taussig shunt surgery may be performed. Babies who receive corrective surgery have a high rate of survival of tetralogy of Fallot. Without surgery, a person with TOF usually dies by the age of 20.

Your Baby’s Rights

If your baby was born with tetralogy of Fallot that may have been caused by exposure to prescription drugs before birth, your family deserves financial compensation. Although no amount of money will change what happened to your baby, compensation will help offset the current and future medical costs, as well as provide for the pain and suffering you and your baby have experienced. Filing a claim will also teach the manufacturers of unsafe medications that it is unacceptable to not warn parents of the risks associated with these drugs, including serious birth defects. Your suit may even prevent other families from suffering as yours has, by forcing 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 burdens 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 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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