Certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications have been associated with birth defects in research studies.
The average consumer believes there is little risk in taking non-prescribed medications during pregnancy. Yet, several popular over-the-counter like pain relievers pose potential risks to a growing fetus. Not only can such drugs cause birth defects, particularly when taken during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, but they can also cause birth delivery complications when taken during the third trimester.
Prescription Drugs Known to Potentially Cause Birth Defects
- Zofran (ondansetron) is a drug that falls under the category of serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist medications. Although Zofran was developed for nausea and vomiting following surgery and/or chemotherapy, it has also been used off-label to treat nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. The potential birth defects associated with Zofran include muscular and skeletal abnormalities, club feet, cleft lip and/or palate, jaundice and heart problems.
- Accutane is a drug used to treat extreme forms of cystic acne. There are strong warnings “not to take this drug during pregnancy” because of the risk of birth defects. The patient warnings accompanying Accutane recommend that women of childbearing age who take the drug must be using reliable contraceptive measures. Birth defects linked to Accutane include vision and/or hearing impairment, facial defects, underdeveloped or missing earlobes, mental retardation, and heart problems.
- Antidepressants, also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), are among the most popular drugs prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. Common trade names for antidepressant medications include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. These “mood stabilizers” have been associated with such birth defects as heart conditions, cleft lip and palate malformation, and umbilical hernias (omphalocele).
- Anti-Seizure Medications, often referred to as “anti-epileptic” drugs, are usually prescribed to patients afflicted with epilepsy or other convulsion-related health conditions. Common trade names for anti-seizure medications include Dilantin, Lamictal, Neurontin, Tegretol and Phenobarbital. Anti-seizure drugs can significantly increase the risks for birth defects such as heart, skeletal and palate malformations. Furthermore, they may cause developmental delays in the child’s nervous system and/or affect intellect and behavioral growth, although such symptoms may not present themselves until later in life.
For further information, take a look at the BDRC Birth Defects and Litigation fact sheet.
BDRC does not endorse any law firm or attorney. BDRC does not promote or encourage litigation, and we cannot guarantee any results from an engagement of an attorney.
To find out more information about litigation, see Birth Defects and Litigation.
Attorneys or law firms that would like information about becoming a BDRC sponsor may reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.