Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in Newborns (PPHN) occurs when a baby’s circulation system fails to transition from the way it operated in the uterus to how it needs to perform after birth. In the womb, a baby’s circulation bypasses the lungs when oxygen travels through the umbilical cord to the baby’s body through a blood vessel called the ductus arteriousus. After birth, the ductus arteriosus should close, and the baby’s heart should pump blood that needs to be oxygenated to the lungs and oxygenated blood from the lungs to the body.
However, in a baby with PPHN, the ductus arteriosus does not close, which means blood is still directed away from the lungs. This rare but serious condition is dangerous because the blood is allowed to flow from the right ventricle of the heart to the left, instead of from the heart to the lungs. This means the baby’s blood does not get oxygenated in the lungs like it should, resulting in severe and life-threatening hypoxemia (lack of oxygen).
Anti-depressants: A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that maternal use of certain anti-depressants increases a baby’s risk of PPHN by more than 6 times. The anti-depressants linked to PPHN and other birth defects may include:
Effexor, a similar anti-depressant, is also being researched for possible link to an increased risk of PPHN.
Upon being diagnosed with PPHN, the baby will receive oxygen through a breathing tube. The baby’s oxygenation, blood pressure and perfusion (whether nutrients are reaching the body’s tissues) will be constantly monitored. Drugs may be used to maintain the heart’s output of blood and systemic blood pressure. High-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOU) is a technique that may be used to improve oxygen delivery to the lungs and help open up the blood vessels leading to the lungs. The most extreme treatment is called ECMO, which requires major surgery and is associated with potentially serious side effects. The ECMO machine acts as an artificial heart and lung for the baby for several days while the baby’s lungs heal and recover.
Your Baby’s Rights
If your baby was born with PPHN that may have been caused by exposure to anti-depressants 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.
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.