An omphalocele is a birth defect in which a baby’s intestines or other organs protrude through the naval and remain outside the body, covered only by a thin, transparent, bubble-like layer of tissue. In some severe cases, the liver and spleen may remain outside the abdomen in a thin sac. The tissue covering the organs is transparent, and the defect can thus be diagnosed at on sight. Omphalocele is a form of hernia (meaning “rupture”) and is sometimes referred to as an “umbilical hernia.” Recent studies have shown that pregnant women who take Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft during pregnancy are at an increased risk of giving birth to a child with an omphalocele.
An omphalocele develops during pregnancy when the infant’s abdominal wall fails to form properly, leaving some organs outside the umbilical cord. Approximately 25-40 percent of infants with an omphalocele also have other birth defects, including genetic problems (chromosomal abnormalities), congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and heart defects.
Diagnosis of an omphalocele can often can be made during pregnancy via an ultrasound, allowing doctors and patients to plan for treatment in advance. However, due to the obtrusive nature of the defect, a doctor can generally diagnose the condition immediately after birth. Testing is seldom necessary.
Treatment for an omphalocele generally will consist of a single surgery, either shortly after birth or somewhat later in the child’s life. If an infant has other more life-threatening birth defects, the omphalocele may not be treated until the more dangerous birth defects have been addressed. Smaller omphaloceles can be fully repaired during infancy. A man-made material is stitched over the omphalocele, which slowly pushes the organs back into the abdominal cavity. When the organs are in place, the material is removed and the abdomen is stitched closed. For larger omphaloceles, it may be necessary to allow the child’s abdomen time to grow, so that there will be enough space for the protruding organs. In such cases, skin is allowed to grow over the omphalocele. When the child is older, cosmetic surgery can be done to normalize the abdominal muscles and skin. In either case, the protective tissue covering the omphalocele provides sufficient cover to make the protrusion relatively benign.
Despite the good outlook for most infants with an omphalocele, complications can occur. The most common complications are intestinal infections and death of intestinal tissue. After surgery, the infant should be monitored for a range of possible symptoms which may indicate further complications. These symptoms include decreased bowel movements, feeding problems, fever, green or yellowish vomit, a swollen belly, excessive vomiting, or worrisome behavioral changes. If any these symptoms arise, parents are urged to contact the child’s doctor. The prognosis for an infant with an omphalocele generally is very good, as the defect usually can be repaired surgically with minimal complications. How well a child does depends on which other birth defects the child also has.
A 2007 study undertaken in part by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that women who took SSRI drugs such as Zoloft during their pregnancy were 2.8 times more likely than women in the control group to give birth to children with an omphalocele. The study joins a growing body of Zoloft research which finds the anti-depressant Zoloft to be linked to a higher incidence of a variety of birth defects including spina bifida, cleft lip and cleft palate, and heart defects. Some of these Zoloft-induced defects may be associated with the occurrence of an omphalocele.
Zoloft Omphalocele Lawsuit
Concerned parents and across the United States are choosing to file claims for Zoloft omphalocele damages. Zoloft lawsuits for omphalocele damages allege that drug company Pfizer failed to warn of the birth defect side effects risks linked to use of the SSRI antidepressant drug Zoloft during pregnancy.
If you or a loved on took Zoloft while pregnant and your baby suffered an omphalocele, you may have a right to file a Zoloft lawsuit claim for substantial financial compensation and be entitled to a Zoloft settlement.
Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced attorney. Let us answer all of your questions and help you recover the compensation you and your family deserve. Submit the Zoloft attorney contact request form on this page or call us toll-free at 800-845-6913.