Evidence is growing that mothers who take SSRIs, antidepressants, Depakote, Depakene, pain medication, and other prescription medications during pregnancy are at a higher risk of having babies with serious congenital heart defects, including Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. HRHS is a serious, life-threatening birth defect, in which the right side of the heart fails to develop completely. Babies born with HRHS must undergo several surgeries to fix the defects caused by prescription medications.

Do I Have a Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome Lawsuit? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with a birth defect after taking an SSRI, antidepressant, Depakote, Depakene, pain medication, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome lawsuit.

What drugs have been linked to Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome?

If you are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant, you should consult a physician regarding any medications you are taking, or thinking of taking, while you are pregnant. Some medications taken during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Tell your doctor about any prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, dietary supplements, or others. If you are currently taking a medication, do not stop taking the medication without first consulting a doctor.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Antidepressants: Heart defects that develop while a baby is in the womb may be caused by SSRIs and antidepressants taken by their mothers (especially Wellbutrin / bupropion). Several studies have found a link between these medications and birth defects, prompting the CDC to issue a warning.

SSRIs/antidepressants include:

Anti-Seizure / Mood Disorder Medications – These pharmaceutical medications have many uses, but usually they are prescribed to prevent seizures, manic-depressive disorders, headaches, and psychiatric conditions. Depakote, Depakene and other drugs have been linked to birth defects, according to new research. Medications include:

  • Depacon
  • Depakene
  • Depakote
  • Depakote CP
  • Depakote ER
  • Stavzor

Pain Medication / Cough Medicine: A publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that pregnant women who use some types of pain medication (or cough medicine) are more likely to have babies with cardiovascular birth defects.

These medications include:

  • Oxycontin
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Some Cough Medication

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome Overview

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS) is a congenital birth defect affecting the heart, in which the right side of the heart does not fully develop while the baby is in the womb. Underdevelopment of an internal organ is called “hypoplastia.” The condition is very serious, because the right side of the heart is responsible for pumping blood from the body to the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated. A baby born with HRHS will usually turn blue (or “cyanotic”) a few hours after birth, as the heart is unable to supply enough oxygenated blood to the body. Surgery is the only option for fixing HRHS. It is less common than Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

In a baby born with HRHS, the parts of the heart that are abnormally formed often include:

  • Tricuspid valve — Called “tricuspid atresia,” this is when the valve between the upper and lower chambers on the right side of the heart (the “right atrium” and “right ventricle”) is malformed. Usually, it is too narrow or completely closed, thus blocking the flow of blood through the right side of the heart.
  • Pulmonary valve — Called “pulmonary valve stenosis,” this is when the valve between the lower-right chamber of the heart (called the “right ventricle”) and the lungs is too narrow. A person with HRHS may also have “pulmonary valve atresia,” in which a solid wall of tissue forms where the valve should be.
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse — This is a complication of HRHS that occurs on the left side of the heart, because the left side must work harder to compensate for the underdeveloped right side. Mitral Valve Prolapse occurs when the mitral valve bulges upward, and does not close properly.

Signs & Symptoms of Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS) is not usually a problem for the baby while it is developing in the mother’s womb, because it receives oxygenated blood from the mother’s placenta. As soon as the baby is born, however, the under-developed right side of the heart will be unable to supply the body with oxygenated blood. The lack of oxygen produces the first symptom of HRHS: a bluish color to the skin, lips, nails, and tongue — called “cyanosis”, or “Blue Baby Syndrome.”

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Poor feeding
  • Cold extremities (hands/feet)
  • Inactivity
  • Drowsiness

A pediatric cardiologist will need to run several tests to definitively diagnose HRHS. The first sign will usually be a “murmur” when the physician listen’s to the baby’s heart — a “murmur” is any abnormal sound that indicates blood is flowing improperly through the heart. Further tests may include an X-ray, electrocardiogram, or echocardiogram to produce an image, from which a pediatric cardiologist will diagnose HRHS.

Treatment & Prognosis

Babies born with HRHS are candidates for a cardiac transplant, but this is not usually an option, because newborn hearts are very rare, and the life-expectancy for a patient who receives a newborn heart averages only 15 years. In addition, people who receive heart transplants must take anti-rejection medication for their entire life.

Modern surgical repair of heart defects has advanced considerably in recent years. Surgical repair of HRHS is different for every individual, but usually involves a 3-stage process known as the “Fontan procedure” that, ultimately, will bypass the hypoplastic right ventricle.

  • Stage 1: Blalock-Taussig Shunt – When the baby is just a few days old, surgeons will place a temporary shunt into a hole in the baby’s heart called the Patent Ductus Arteriosus, to keep this hole open. The PDA is present in most newborns at birth, but normally closes a few days after birth. In babies with HRHS, blood flows through the PDA instead of the malformed valves, thus allowing a small amount of oxygen-rich blood to get to the left side of the heart, where it is pumped into the body. The Blalock-Taussig shunt keeps this hole open until further surgery can be performed.
  • Stage 2: Glenn shunt – Performed when the baby is about four months old. During this surgery, the superior vena cava (the vein bringing oxygen-poor blood from the body to the heart) is attached to the artery that leads to the lungs. This allows blood to passively flow into the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated.
  • Stage 3: Fontan procedure – Performed when the baby is about two years old. The Glenn shunt is left in place. The pulmonary artery is attached to the right atrium, thus bypassing the right ventricle.

Long-term prognosis for children who undergo the Fontan procedure is good. They are expected to live 15-30 years before needing an additional surgery or transplant. Adult heart transplants are far more readily available than newborn transplants.

Do I Have a Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome Lawsuit?

For a free consultation, please contact Collen A. Clark at The Clark Firm, LLP immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome lawsuit.

Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”

The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more that 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $60 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact us for a free Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome lawsuit review.