The heart is the first organ to form in the fetus. Its development begins as two tubes, which fuse together between the fetus' 18th and 30th day of life. The fused tubes twist and curve and begin to construct an uncomplicated form of the mature heart. The tiny primitive organ begins beating about 21 days after conception.
Whatever interferes with this normal developmental process can produce a heart defect. The factors that can interrupt the formation of a normal heart include:
- Genetic influences
- Premature birth
- Environmental causes, including certain medications and industrial chemicals
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Alcohol and drug abuse
Because the heart forms so early, a woman might not even know she is pregnant when her fetus is exposed to harmful influences. She therefore wouldn't know that her child might be born with a heart defect.
Heart Problems and Infants
Heart problems in babies are caused by defects in the structure of the newborn heart. These may be defects in the walls separating the heart chambers, problems with the blood vessels within or leading to or from the heart, or flaws in the structure of the heart valves.
Some symptoms of heart defects in infants include:
- A heart murmur, which can be heard through a stethoscope
- Breathing problems due to excess blood flow from the left to the right side of the heart because of defects in the walls of the heart, including ventricular septal and atrial septal defects or an obstruction to blood flow on the left side of the heart so that the blood backs up in the blood vessels that return blood from the lungs
- Shortness of breath, which can cause feeding problems and poor weight gain
- Cyanosis, a condition in which the skin appears blue because there is not enough oxygen in the blood. (Oxygen gives blood its red color.)
SSRIs and Heart Defects
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), a type of antidepressant, have sometimes been associated with septal heart defects or holes in the walls separating the heart chambers. This category of antidepressants includes the brands:
Contact a Prozac® Birth Defect Lawyer
If you took Prozac® or another SSRI during your pregnancy and then had a baby with a heart defect, you should contact a Prozac® birth defect lawyer to find out if you qualify to file a legal claim. To schedule a free case review, contact our Prozac® birth defect lawyers today.