Pristiq: Infant Withdrawal Symptoms and Birth Defects

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Are you a pregnant woman who has been prescribed Pristiq? Your unborn child could be at risk.

What is Pristiq?

Pristiq is prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorders. Depression is a serious medical condition that can severely impact a person’s quality of life. The cause of depression is varied and uncertain, but it can be treated by prescribed medications. However pregnant women are at risk of harming their child if they are prescribed Pristiq to treat their diagnosed depression.

Risk for Pregnant Women

Drugs are defined under certain risk categories. These categories indicate to the doctor if a particular drug is appropriate to prescribe to a patient. For example, a Category A drug has been subject to human studies that prove no risk to a fetus in any trimester of pregnancy. Pristiq is a category C drug, which on its release had only been subject to animal studies and not been tested on humans. The impact of this drug on pregnant women and their unborn fetuses is only now being discovered. Category C drugs might have potential benefits to the pregnant woman, but it does so with potentially severe risks to their unborn child.

Birth Defects

Women who are pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant should be aware of the known side effects of Pristiq on their unborn child.

Known side effects are as follows:

  • Clubbed feet 
  • Cleft lip/palate 
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (difficulty of blood flow to the lungs) 
  • Gastroschisis (where a babies intestines form outside of the body) 
  • Septal heart defects (Hole in the heart) 
  • Spina Bifida

It is recommended that women should be warned not to take this drug while pregnant or attempting to become pregnant.

Autism and Antidepressants

Several studies indicate that taking antidepressants while pregnant can increase the risk of lifelong adverse health effects to the unborn child. If a pregnant woman uses an antidepressant like Pristiq, it triples the risk of developmental disabilities for their child. The fetus is most vulnerable in the first trimester of pregnancy. Another study also confirmed that use of antidepressants by women while pregnant increased the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Consult an Attorney

If you, or your baby, have suffered adverse health consequences following the use of Pristiq, consult with an experienced injury and product liability attorney right away to preserve your rights. You may be entitled to bring an action and receive compensation for injuries suffered as a result of Pristiq use.


Harrington et al., Prenatal SSRI Use and Offspring with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay, PEDIATRICS (Apr. 14, 2014)

Rai et al., Parental Depression, Maternal Antidepressant use During Pregnancy, and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Population Based Case-Control Study, BMJ (Apr. 19, 2013)

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