Zoloft Birth Defects

Zoloft Birth Defects

Zoloft is one of the most popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression but side effects, particularly birth defects, are alarming medical professionals and expectant mothers.

The most common birth defects are persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), heart defects including atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD), as well as omphalocele and craniosynotostosis.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

It is not uncommon for an infant to be born with hypertension or high blood pressure however, if this condition persists, it can lead to persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

PPHN is a serious lung condition that restricts blood flow to the lungs, thereby increasing blood pressure for a prolonged period of time. PPHN is one of the five Zoloft birth defects recognized by medical professionals. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, bluish lips and skin, fainting and irregular heartbeat.

Atrial Septal Defects (ASD)

A 2009 British Journal of Medicine study linked atrial septa defects (ASD), which are congenital heart diseases, to Zoloft use during a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy. According to the study, when taken during the first trimester, Zoloft can double an infant’s risk for this Zoloft birth defect. ASD causes holes in the chambers of an infant’s heart leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and lack of appetite.

Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD)

Like ASD, ventricular septal defects (VSD) are congenital heart diseases known for causing holes in the chambers of the heart. VSD was highlighted as one of several serious birth defects developed during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Babies suffering from ASD and VSD generally show symptoms of the birth defects within a few months after birth. These symptoms may include fatigue, lung infections, heart murmurs, rapid heart rate, lung infections, bluish nails, skin or lips and swelling of the abdomen, feet or legs.


An omphalocele is a type of hernia that occurs in infants while they’re in the womb. One of the more common birth defects, omphalocele causes abdominal organs such as the intestine to stick out of an infant’s belly button.

Unlike other birth defects caused by Zoloft, omphaloceles can be detected by ultrasound. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 25 to 40 percent of infants with omphalocele have other birth defects.


Though the causes of craniosynostosis are unknown, the birth defect is one of several side effects associated with Zoloft use.

Craniosynostosis is a congenital defect that causes the connections between an infant’s individual skull bones to close early, resulting in an abnormally shaped head.

There are several types of craniosynostosis. The most common type, sagittal synostosis (scaphocephaly), forces the head to grow long rather than wide, causing infants to have broad foreheads. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the majority of infants with craniosynostosis have normal intelligence.

Other birth defects

There are other birth defects that have been associated with the use of  Zoloft including autism, premature births, and infants suffering from Zoloft withdrawal.  Mothers who were taking this antidepressant during their pregnancies may have a viable legal action for these birth defects and other afflictions.