Birth Defects from Decongestants

Decongestant birth defectsIf your child has been diagnosed with endocardial cushion defect or ECD, it means that the walls that are supposed to separate the four different chambers of the heart did not form properly, or perhaps not at all.

This is a congenital heart defect, which means that it happened while your baby was still developing. Though traditionally mitral valve problems found in infants are caused by genetic abnormalities, recent studies have also linked them to mothers using decongestants during pregnancy. Other studies have shown a link between heart conditions and taking anti-depressants and SSRIs.

The attorneys at Danziger & De Llano will provide assistance to families impacted by this birth defect as a result of taking decongestants or anti-depressants. Call 1-866-222-9990 for a Free and confidential consultation.

What is an Endocardial Cushion?

The endocardial cushions are areas within the developing fetus’ heart that eventually grows into the walls and valves that separate the chambers of the infant’s heart. The walls that separate the left chamber from the right are called the ventricular or atrial septum and the valves that separate the top from the bottom are called the mitral and tricuspid.

When any of these are missing or malformed, serious health problems can follow. These include:

  • Elevated blood pressure in the lungs
  • Swelling of the lungs
  • Heart weakening or failure
  • Bluish coloring of the skin, or cyanosis

Endocardial cushion disease is a life-threatening condition, and many of the symptoms require immediate, and expensive, medical attention.

Symptoms of Endocardial Cushion Defects

Endocardial cushion defects may require surgery, but are not always evident at first.

Women who have taken decongestants during the first trimester of their pregnancy or who have been prescribed anti-depressants should be particularly vigilant in looking out for symptoms, as recent studies have linked their use to a higher incidence of this serious congenital heart defect.

Symptoms of these heart conditions can be frightening and signify the need for immediate medical attention. Your baby may tire more easily then others do, or his color may shift to a bluish tinge.

The lips in particular are the first to turn blue, and this sign is often one of the first that is noticed.  Other, more troubling symptoms include:

  • Failure to thrive (baby does not gain weight or grow)
  • Repeated bouts of pneumonia
  • Loss of interest in food and inability to breathe during feeding
  • Pale color
  • Fast heartbeat, rapid breathing and sweating

Danziger & De Llano are attorneys who have spent their lives helping those who have fallen victim to negligence on the part of big drug companies like those whose nasal decongestant sprays are causing endocardial cushion disease.

Types of Endocardial Cushion Defect

Endocardial cushion defect is generally classified as either complete or partial. In complete ECD, the infant is diagnosed with both a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and an atrial septal defect (ASD). They also only have a single heart valve rather than the normal mitral and triscuspid valves.

In partial, or incomplete ECD the two valves are present but one may be malformed and allow blood to leak out. The septal defect may not involve both the atrial and ventricular wall, but just the atrial, though both may be missing.

When endocardial cushion defect or other infant heart conditions of this type are caused by a genetic abnormality, there are often other conditions present, including Downs Syndrome or other heart defects.

Studies Linking Decongestants with ECD

The studies linking ECD with mothers taking decongestants during the first trimester of their pregnancy and those linking the congenital heart conditions have not cited these additional conditions being present.

When a child has a serious medical condition like endocardial cushion disease it can have a devastating emotional impact on the entire family.

Diagnosing Endocardial Cushion Defect

When it is suspected that an infant or child may have an endocardial cushion defect, there are a number of diagnostic tests that doctors can order. These include an electrocardiogram or ECG, which measures the activity of the heart, an ultrasound which can provide a view of how blood is flowing through the heart, an X-Ray to determine whether or not the heart is enlarged, or an MRI, which provides more detail of blood flow than an ultrasound can.

In some cases a cardiac catheterization can be ordered, though this is infrequently done. It involves threading a tiny catheter through the arteries and into the heart in order to measure blood pressure and flow.

The costs of the medical tests needed to determine what your child’s condition is and what can be done are often too much for a family’s insurance to cover.

If your child’s condition is caused by the ingredients in an over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray that you used during pregnancy, you may be eligible for compensation for your expenses.

Treating Endocardial Cushion Defect

Surgical repair is the only treatment for endocardial cushion defect, and the timing of the surgery is determined by the severity of the congenital heart condition and the symptoms that are being suffered.

The sicker the child, the more urgent the surgery is, though in some cases medicines such as diuretics and those that help the heart to beat more forcefully can be used in the meantime. For some, more than one surgery may be required. In most cases, infants suffering from these heart conditions need surgery before their first birthday in order to prevent serious lung damage.

Outlook, Prognosis and Prevention

The outlook for children who have been diagnosed with endocardial cushion defects can be quite positive, but much has to do with the severity of the defect and how quickly the condition is discovered and treated. If left untreated for too long, irreparable lung damage may occur.

Preventing ECD depends upon what has caused it. Recent studies have linked endocardial cushion defects and other heart conditions to taking decongestants during pregnancy, or with having been prescribed and taking antidepressants. In other cases, the heart defects are linked to genetic abnormalities.

Contact our Experienced Law Firm

The lawyers at Danziger & De Llano are dedicated to fighting for the rights of families who have been harmed by the negligence of big companies. If your child’s congenital birth defect was caused by a nasal decongestant spray that you used during your pregnancy, we can help. Call 1-866-222-9990 today for more information.