Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a series of four birth defects affecting the heart, resulting in too little blood reaching the lungs, and oxygen-poor blood going to the rest of the body. Open-heart surgery is required to treat TOF. Women who took antidepressants, SSRIs, Depakote, Depakene, and other medications during
pregnancy have an increased risk of having babies with serious, life-threatening birth defects of the heart, including Tetralogy of Fallot.
Do I Have a Tetralogy of Fallot 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, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Tetralogy of Fallot lawsuit.
What drugs have been linked to Tetralogy of Fallot?
Always talk to your doctor if you are pregnant and taking any medication or thinking about taking a medication. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, and dietary supplements. Do not start or stop any medication without first consulting a doctor. If you are planning a pregnancy, consult your doctor to determine which are necessary and should be continued.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Antidepressant Medications: The CDC has issued a warning after several studies linked SSRIs and prescription antidepressant medications (especially Wellbutrin / bupropion) to an increased risk of serious birth defects, when women took the drugs during pregnancy.
- Paxil, Seroxat (paroxetine)
- Zoloft, Lustral (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro, Cipralex (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin, Zyban (bupropion)
- Effexor (vanlafaxine)
Anti-Seizure Medications – These medications are often prescribed to prevent seizures, manic-depressive disorders, migraines, and other off-label uses (usually psychiatric conditions). A recent study has linked Depakote, Depakene and other medications to serious birth defects. Medications include:
- Depakote CP
- Depakote ER
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:
- Some Cough Medication
A study found that women who have asthma and take asthma medications (sometimes known as “bronchodilators”) during pregnancy were more likely to have babies born with birth defects affecting the heart.
The CDC also made a warning concerning the use of hypertension medication during pregnancy, after a study linked its use to several congenital heart defects.
Tetralogy of Fallot Overview
Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a rare, complex congenital birth defect of the heart. It is present at birth, and affects roughly five babies in every 10,000 live births. It develops during the first eight weeks of fetal development. Like most heart defects, it isn’t a problem when the baby is developing in the womb, because the baby receives oxygenated blood from its mother’s placenta. TOF is usually noticed shortly after birth, when the baby’s heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood to its body, and the skin, nails, and lips turn blue.
TOF is actually four related heart defects. The result of these defects is that too little blood reaches the lungs, and too little oxygen-rich blood reaches the rest of the body. The four heart defects are:
- Ventricular septal defect: A hole between the lower right and lower left chambers of the heart. This hole allows oxygenated blood to mix with non-oxygenated blood, thus diluting the supply of oxygen-rich blood that is pumped into the body, and decreasing the efficiency of the heart-lung system.
- Pulmonary stenosis: Narrowing of the pulmonary artery, pulmonary valve, or both. This artery carries blood from the heart to the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated. If the valve is narrowed, it will restrict the flow of blood into the lungs.
- Overriding aorta: The aorta is abnormally positioned, shifted slightly to the right. This places it directly above the Ventricular Septal Defect, the hole in the heart that allows oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood. The aorta thus pumps the oxygen-diluted mixture of blood into the body.
- Right Ventricular Hypertrophy: Because the right ventricle must work harder to pump blood throughout the body, the muscular wall of the right ventricle becomes thicker. Over time, the muscle may stiffen, become weaker, and ultimately lead to congestive heart failure.
Signs & Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot
“Blue Baby Syndrome” — Tetralogy of Fallot belongs to the class of heart defects that cause low levels of oxygen in the blood, producing a blue color of the skin, lips, or nails (also known as “cyanosis”). TOF is the most common type of cyanotic heart defect.
Other symptoms may include:
- Clubbing of fingers
- Cyanosis that becomes more pronounced when the baby is upset
- Difficulty feeding
- Failure to gain weight
- Passing out
- Poor development
- Squatting during episodes of cyanosis
A pediatric cardiologist will need to run several tests to make a definitive diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot. The simplest procedure is simply listening to the baby’s heart with a stethoscope, in which the doctor usually hears a “murmur,” indicating an abnormality. Other tests may include an X-ray, echocardiogram, or electrocardiogram.
Treatment & Prognosis
Surgical repair is the only way to fix Tetralogy of Fallot.
Most babies with Tetralogy of Fallot undergo some type of surgery to repair the heart defects. At least one open-heart surgery will usually be performed in the baby’s first year of life. Surgery typically includes placing a patch over the Ventricular Septal Defect, and also widening the narrowed pulmonary valve. Sometimes, babies that are not able to undergo the full surgical repair may have a temporary surgery to increase blood flow to the lungs.
In recent years, the survival rate of babies born with TOF has greatly improved. Today, more than 95% of babies with TOF will undergo surgery during their first year of life. The long-term prognosis is usually good, because the surgery improves the body’s circulation. Post-operative care will include regular examinations to identify complications, such as abnormally fast/slow heart rhythm, a pulmonary valve that is leaking blood back into the heart because it has been widened, or re-developing a narrowing of the arteries.
Children with TOF who undergo treatment will usually have restrictions on exercise for the rest of their lives.
Do I Have a Tetralogy of Fallot 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 Tetralogy of Fallot 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 Tetralogy of Fallot lawsuit review.