What is Lexapro?
Lexapro is an anti-depressant drug used to treat the effects of major depression disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in adults. These are two conditions that, if left untreated, cause extreme emotional distress in patients and can lead to reclusive behavior or suicidal tendencies. Lexapro is a brand name, manufactured by Forest Laboratories, Inc., of the drug Escitalopram and is not currently available in a generic form.
Lexapro is one of the most popular SSRI’s on the American market today. An SSRI is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and works to control imbalances in the brain chemistry. Serotonin is a neural chemical that regulates moods and stabilizes emotions. Those with significant imbalances in their serotonin levels frequently exhibit symptoms such as those inherent in disorders like depression and anxiety disorders. These symptoms can include extreme fear and panic that interrupts daily life. Those suffering from depression often feel withdrawn and experience a disinterest in daily activities that once brought great joy.
Lexapro was recently approved for use in children aged 12-17 who are suffering from depression or anxiety. Close doctor supervision is required and children taking SSRI’s must be closely monitored as adolescent and teenage brain development is still underway. Until recently, the effects of SSRI’s, including Lexapro, was not extensively studied in pregnant women and fetuses.
How Can Lexapro Harm Children?
In a recent study published by the Archives of General Psychiatry, doctors have discovered a link between prenatal exposure to drugs like Lexapro and the onset of childhood autistic disorders. Children who were exposed in utero to drugs like Lexapro could be up to three times more likely to develop autism than those who were not exposed to the drug. Lexapro is especially harmful in the first trimester of pregnancy when fetal brain development is beginning and important chemical balances are formulating.
Lexapro could cause autistic disorders like those found on the autistic spectrum (ASD’s). This include Heller’s Syndrome, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified). These disorders affect a child’s social, cognitive and emotional development. Some children exhibit extreme symptoms of autism while others have a seemingly mild form. Autism is treatable but not curable and many children with an ASD work with specialists and learning support professionals to maintain scholastic achievement congruent with their peers.
Experts are still unclear as to precisely how Lexapro harms fetal brain chemistry. However, autism is closely related to serotonin levels and children with autism often suffer from serotonin fluctuations and imbalances. Children exposed to the drug in the second and third trimester are at a slightly lower risk of developing the disorder but still carry a greater chance than their peers.
What Are My Rights?
Parents around the nation are beginning to discover the undeniable link between SSRI’s like Lexapro and the development of autism in their children. When a pharmaceutical drug is responsible for injuries and adverse side effects, users have rights against the company who manufactures the product. Plaintiffs may also have a claim against any physician prescribing the drug who knew or should have known of the likelihood of injury from the drug.
Many plaintiffs contemplate class action lawsuits versus individual lawsuits – especially with respect to injuries sustained by prescription drugs. Class action lawsuits are those that bring a number of plaintiffs together who were all harmed by the same drug and experienced the same side effects. Parents of children born with autism who were prescribed drugs like Lexapro may be in a prime position to commence a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer for damages suffered as a result of negligence.
We are a nationwide law firm that advocates for parents facing these difficult decisions. If your child suffers from any one of the autism spectrum disorders and you were prescribed Lexapro during pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact a Lexapro autism attorney today.