Zoloft, a popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, is associated with severe side effects, including Zoloft birth defects in children whose mothers use the drug during pregnancy. One such risk is Zoloft clubfoot, a congenital birth defect that occurs when a baby’s foot or feet are twisted or misaligned, usually curled inward or pointing down.
Symptoms of Zoloft clubfoot
The medical term for clubfoot is congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV). This condition is easily diagnosed after birth with a physical exam and, occasionally, x-rays. Children born with clubfoot may have just one or both feet affected, and sometimes have underdeveloped calf muscles.
Clubfeet are identified by their malformed appearance in which the foot faces down, as if on tiptoe, or is twisted inward to the opposite leg. If left untreated, toddlers with Zoloft clubfeet will begin walking on their ankles instead of the soles of the feet.
Treatment for Zoloft clubfeet
The best treatment for clubfoot begins directly after birth, when baby joints are flexible and feet can easily be manipulated. The goal of clubfoot treatments is to prevent lifelong disability by permanently correcting the foot’s position. There are three main treatment options:
- French method: For the first two months of an infant’s life, this treatment involves placing the foot into the correct position and taping it in place. Between two and six months, this method is reduced to three times weekly. Parents must also perform daily foot and ankle exercises until their children begin to walk. The French method may be combined with the Ponseti method.
- Ponseti method: Like the French method, this treatment option manipulates an infant’s foot into the correct position, but instead of using tape to secure the placement, the Ponseti method utilizes a cast. Incremental repositioning, and subsequent recasting, occurs every few weeks. After the correct foot position has been achieved, the infant must wear a brace or special shoes for up to three years.
- Surgery: Surgery is used as a last resort in cases of severe clubfoot. Depending on an infant’s specific condition, surgery may loosen the Achilles tendon or lengthen ankle tendons. A foot brace is required for approximately one year following surgery.
Birth defects associated with Zoloft, which also include septal defects, PPHN, and other conditions, are a serious concern for women who took the antidepressant during pregnancy. While treatment options exist, they are often expensive, time consuming, and do not guarantee complete recovery.
Many families affected by birth defects such as Zoloft clubfeet have filed lawsuits to recover medical expenses, lifestyle changes, and other damages suffered.