Tricuspid Atresia is a serious, life-threatening birth defect of the heart. The tricuspid valve fails to develop, and instead is a solid wall of tissue. TA often develops along with Ventricular Septal Defects and other abnormalities. New research has raised safety concerns after finding that women who took SSRIs, antidepressants, and other medications during pregnancy had a greater risk of having babies born with Tricuspid Atresia and other severe heart defects.

Do I Have a Tricuspid Atresia 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 Tricuspid Atresia lawsuit.

What drugs have been linked to Tricuspid Atresia?

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should talk to a doctor about all medications that they are taking — including over-the-counter medicine, prescription medicine, dietary supplements, and herbal supplements. These drugs may cause debilitating, life-threatening birth defects. Always talk to a health care provider before you start or stop any medication.

SSRIs and Antidepressants: What is an SSRI or antidepressant? Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are drugs used to treat depression — but if they are used by pregnant women, they may cause birth defects, such as Tricuspid Atresia. The CDC is warning women of the increased risk. These medications 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

Tricuspid Atresia Overview

Tricuspid atresia (TA) is a congenital birth defect affecting the heart. Specifically, the tricuspid valve fails to develop, and instead is a solid wall of tissue. It is uncommon, affecting about 5 babies for every 100,000 live births.

TA develops while the baby is in the womb, usually when the mother is about 8 weeks pregnant. Like most heart defects, it isn’t a problem for the baby while it is developing, because the baby receives oxygen-rich blood from the mother’s placenta. When the baby is born, however, the baby’s heart is unable to supply oxygen-rich blood.

Tricuspid atresia is a defect of the tricuspid valve. The tricuspid valve is the valve between the upper and lower chambers on the right side of the heart (known as the “right atrium” and the “right ventricle”). In a normal heart, oxygen-poor blood from the body flows into the right atrium, and then it passes down through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle, where it is pumped into the lungs to receive oxygen. The tricuspid valve thus acts like a “one-way-door,” only allowing blood to flow in one direction through the heart.

In a baby with TA, because the blood cannot flow through the tricuspid valve, it must find some other route through the heart. Usually, babies with TA also have other heart defects, such as:

  • Atrial Septal Defect: Blood passes from the right atrium through a hole into the left atrium, and then down into the left ventricle. This bypasses the right ventricle entirely — fortunately, most babies are born with a hole in their heart called a patent ducuts arteriosus (PDA), which allows some oxygen-poor blood to mix with oxygen-rich blood. The PDA normally closes shortly after birth, so babies with Tricuspid Atresia will be given a medication called prostaglandin E1 to keep this hole open. Often, the child will undergo surgery soon after birth to place a shunt in this hole to keep it open.

Some other, complex types of Tricuspid atresia may involve a ventricular septal defect, or transposition of the great arteries.

Signs & Symptoms of Tricuspid Atresia

Before the baby is born, your physician will listen to the baby’s heart. He or she may hear an abnormal sound, called a “murmur,” that indicates blood is flowing abnormally through the heart.

Symptoms of Tricuspid Atresia include:

  • Tricuspid atresia belongs to the class of heart defects that result in “Blue Baby Syndrome”, due to the heart’s inability to pump enough oxygenated blood to the body. As a result, the baby’s skin, nails, and lips turn blue shortly after birth. This is called “cyanosis”, and the baby will remain this way until surgery corrects the defects in the heart.
  • Easy fatigue
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Fast breathing
  • Poor growth

Treatment & Prognosis

Babies born with Tricuspid Atresia always require surgery to fix the condition, or they will suffer from heart failure and die. Though babies with TA are candidates for cardiac transplant, this is not usually an option, because of the scarcity of newborn hearts. Furthermore, heart transplant recipients must take anti-rejection medication for the rest of their life, and the life expectancy is only ~15 years.

Advances in modern medicine have made surgical repair a viable option, and also the most common treatment for patients with TA. The surgery called Fontan procedure, and it is done in three stages.

  • Stage 1 — Blalock Taussig Shunt — This shunt is inserted into the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), which is a hole in the heart that is normally present at birth but closes soon after. In babies with TA, the hole actually allows oxygen poor blood to flow through the left side of the heart, thus bypassing the nonexistent tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart. Some of the blood that passes through this hole is able to be pumped into the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated, and pumped into the rest of the body. The Blalock-Taussig Shunt keeps this hole open.
  • Stage 2 — Glenn Shunt (or hemi-Fontan procedure) — Usually conducted when the baby is 4-6 months of age, this procedure connects the superior vena cava (the vein bringing oxygen-poor blood from the body to the heart) to the pulmonary artery, thus allowing oxygen-poor blood to flow passively into the lungs, where it can become oxygenated and then pumped into the body.
  • Stage 3 — Fontan procedure — Usually performed when the child is between 18 months and 3 years of age, this is the final stage of the procedure. The right ventricle is bypassed entirely, and the heart is able to pump enough oxygenated blood so that the baby is no longer cyanotic.

Long-term prognosis for a child with Tricuspid Atresia who undergoes surgery is usually good, though the child will probably have restrictions on exercise. Each individual will respond differently to treatment, depending on the severity of the illness and other individual factors.

Do I Have a Tricuspid Atresia 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 Tricuspid Atresia 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 Tricuspid Atresia lawsuit review.