The Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect normally present in newborns, but usually closes shortly after birth. In some babies, this hole does not close, and can lead to serious, life-threatening complications, including heart failure and death. There is evidence that certain prescription medications, including SSRIs, antidepressants, and other drugs can cause birth defects if mothers take these drugs while pregnant.

Do I Have a Patent Ductus Arteriosus 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, pain medication, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Patent Ductus Arteriosus lawsuit.

What drugs have been linked to Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Attention: If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking — this includes over-the-counter medicines, prescription pills, herbal supplements, and dietary supplements. Do not start or stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.

SSRIs and Antidepressants: Experts have found that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (known as “SSRIs”) and antidepressant medications are linked to a higher incidence of birth defects when mothers take these drugs during pregnancy (especially Wellbutrin / bupropion). Findings from these studies prompted the FDA to issue new safety warnings. Women who had babies with heart defects are getting legal help, and you can too.

SSRIs/antidepressants include:

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

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Overview

The Ductus Arteriosus is a hole that is present in all infants’ hearts at birth — an opening between the two major blood vessels leading away from the heart. Before a baby is born, it receives oxygenated blood from the mother’s placenta. Since an unborn baby does not need to breathe, there is no reason for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. The PDA allows blood to bypass the lungs. Normally, this hole closes within a few minutes after birth, though it may take an entire day. In Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), this hole remains open (the medical term is “patent”). An open PDA allows the mixture of oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood, decreasing the efficiency of the heart. If left untreated, it can cause heart failure and other complications.

PDA occurs in about 8 out of every 1,000 premature babies, compared with 2 out of 1,000 full-term babies. It is twice as common in girls than boys.

Signs & Symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Severity of the symptoms will depend on how large the Patent Ductus Arteriosus opening is. A small opening may not produce any symptoms, and a large opening may produce a heart murmur. A heart murmur is any abnormal sound heard while listening to the heart (sometimes a “clicking” or “whooshing” noise), indicating that blood is flowing abnormally.

Sometimes, a large PDA is not diagnosed until the child is several weeks old, when the infant has trouble feeding and growing at a normal rate. A heart murmur coupled with abnormally high blood pressure in the lungs are often the first indications that the infant’s PDA has not closed normally.

A large PDA might cause the following symptoms:

  • Poor eating, poor growth
  • Sweating with crying or play
  • Persistent fast breathing or breathlessness
  • Easy tiring
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Frequent lung infections
  • A bluish or dusky skin tone


If untreated, a Patent Ductus Arteriosus can cause the following complications:

  • High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) – A large PDA can cause too much blood to flow into the lungs, causing stress and damage to the vessels in the lungs. It can also lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, which can lead to a bacterial infection or pneumonia.
  • Heart failure – Because the PDA decreases the heart’s efficiency, the heart may be unable to supply enough blood to the body, causing the heart muscle to weaken and fail.
  • Heart infection (endocarditis) – This occurs when the inner lining of the heart becomes inflamed, making it susceptible to bacterial infection. A baby with a PDA will likely be treated with antibiotics to prevent endocarditis.
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) – This occurs when the heart enlarges due to high blood pressure, and only when a person has a large PDA. The irregular heartbeat may be too fast or too slow.

Treatment & Prognosis

Usually, a PDA closes on its own. If physicians feel that it will not close, and may cause heart failure or other complications, treatment may include monitoring, medication, and surgery.

Medications may be successful in newborn patients. Indomethacin or ibuprofen can constrict the muscle in the heart wall, encouraging the PDA to close. These medications have serious side-effects, such as kidney injury or bleeding, and the patient will need to be monitored while taking the medications.

Surgical repair can be performed at any age, and involves a small incision between the ribs on the left side of the body, and stitching the hole closed. Another type of surgical repair involves inserting a catheter, which is a flexible tube, into the large arteries. A coil or other device inside the catheter can be used to plug the hole.

Long-term outlook is excellent, and usually children with a PDA need no follow-up surgery or medications.

Do I Have a Patent Ductus Arteriosus 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 Patent Ductus Arteriosus 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 Patent Ductus Arteriosus lawsuit review.