“Hole in the heart” birth defects can lead to lifelong complications for babies whose hearts fail to develop properly in the womb, and research has shown that the risk of hole in the heart birth malformations may be significantly higher in babies whose mothers take certain pharmaceutical drugs while pregnant, like the anti-nausea drug Zofran, which has been marketed off-label as a morning sickness treatment by GlaxoSmithKline. If your child was born with a severe hole in the heart birth defect, and you believe Zofran to be the cause, you may have grounds to file a birth defect lawsuit against the company responsible for designing and selling the pharmaceutical drug. Consult a knowledgeable birth defect lawyer today to explore your possible compensation options.
Types of Hole in the Heart Birth Defects
Hole in the heart birth defects are congenital malformations present at birth that affect the structure of a child’s heart and change the normal flow of blood through the heart. There are two main types of hole in the heart birth defects – atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects – both of which affect the wall, called the septum, separating the two sides of the heart. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is characterized by a hole in the wall separating the two upper chambers of the heart, while a ventricular septal defect (VSD) occurs when there is a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart. ASDs and VSDs both allow oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood, which forces the heart to work harder and can result in high blood pressure and other serious complications.
Common Causes of Hole in the Heart Defects
Atrial and ventricular septal defects occur during the early stages of pregnancy, when a developing baby is especially vulnerable to harm. Although the cause of most congenital heart defects is unknown, a growing body of research has established a potential connection between maternal use of certain medications, like the anti-nausea drug Zofran, and an increased risk of hole in the heart birth defects in babies. According to a number of studies, babies exposed to Zofran (ondansetron) during pregnancy may face double the risk of hole in the heart birth defects like atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects. Unfortunately, many women are unaware of this risk, nor do they realize that Zofran has never been approved by the FDA for use in pregnant women, and every year, approximately one million pregnant women in the United States take Zofran or its generic equivalent.
Long-Term Complications of Septal Defects
Hole in the heart birth defects can range in size, and small atrial septal defects or ventricular septal defects don’t typically affect how the heart works and don’t require any special treatment. Larger ASDs, however, allow more blood to leak from one atrium to the other, and may require open-heart surgery or a catheter procedure to repair. In babies born with larger VSDs, the heart’s extra workload can cause serious complications, like poor growth and heart failure. If the hole in the heart isn’t closed via open-heart surgery, the resulting high blood pressure can scar the arteries in the lungs.
The past few decades have resulted in considerable developments in the diagnosis and treatment of hole in the heart birth defects, and some children with simple ASDs or VSDs survive to adulthood and are able to enjoy normal, active lives. However, without treatment, children born with a large atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect may face a greater risk of serious disabilities, ranging from mild to life-threatening, including congestive heart failure, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias and endocarditis.
Contact a Birth Defect Lawyer for Help
Approximately one in every 100 babies are born with congenital heart defects like atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects, which occur because of incomplete or abnormal development of the baby’s heart during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you took Zofran during pregnancy, and your child was born with a hole in the heart malformation or another serious birth defect, contact a reputable birth defect attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your child’s injuries and medical expenses, which you can pursue by filing a product liability lawsuit against the maker of the pharmaceutical drug.