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Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix (PPI) Birth Defects

Representing Clients Nationwide

If your child was born with a birth defect--especially a heart defect--it may be related to your use of common heartburn medications. These medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), include Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix, and Actiphex. These drugs have been linked by a study with a doubling of the risk of certain heart defects. These results are preliminary, but because the drugs are so commonly used, thousands of children may have been affected.

If you took any of these medications and your child was born with a birth defect, coming forward can help us determine the scope of this problem and the level of risk. You may also be able to receive compensation for your child's injuries--compensation to pay for past, present, and ongoing medical expenses. Contact the law offices of Jacoby & Meyers today for a free case evaluation.

Revealing Birth Defect Risks

In a poster abstract presented at the Digestive Disease Week Conference held May 1-5, 2010, researchers revealed data linking PPI use in early pregnancy to a doubling of the risk of congenital heart defects in newborns. The data came from a review of 208,951 pregnancies in the UK, which included 2445 cases of cardiac birth defects. These incidences of cardiac birth defects were checked for PPI use during early pregnancy, including the use of:

  • Prilosec
  • Nexium
  • Prevacid
  • Protonix
  • Actiphex

Comparing the heart defect pregnancies to matched controls revealed that PPI use during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a doubled risk of cardiac birth defects. Adjusted analyses showed essentially the same risk, and the risk was statistically significant in both the original and adjusted analyses.

Early Signs of Birth Defects Neglected

This is not the first sign that these drugs may be associated with cardiac defects. In several early trials of Prilosec (omeprazole), there was an increased incidence of ventricular septal defects. This showed up in a relatively small study of 113 women, and again in a retrospective study of 955 children whose mothers used omeprazole during pregnancy. This study, published in 2001, showed five children were stillborn and an increased risk of congenital heart defects. However, the author concluded "both effects may be random," a statement that Prilosec's manufacturer, AstraZeneca, quotes on its label to minimize the perception of risk.

Despite these early indicators that PPIs may be a class of dangerous drugs for pregnancy, no pharmaceutical company has designed a study to follow up on this potential risk, even though half of all women experience chronic heartburn during pregnancy and many are prescribed PPIs.

In November 2010, another retrospective study on PPI use and possible birth defects was released. This study was based on data from a Danish health registry and included 840,968 pregnancies, 5082 of which involved exposure to PPIs. The raw numbers suggest that overall, PPI exposure is related to a statistically significant increase in risk of birth defects for certain PPIs and cardiac defects. Despite its size, critics note that the study is not sufficiently powered to detect an association between PPI use and specific birth defects.

Possible Birth Defects

Because no definitive studies of the potential association between PPI use and birth defects have been conducted, it is impossible to know exactly what birth defects might be associated with PPIs. However, some birth defects that might be associated with PPI use include:

  • Heart defects, including:
    • Atrial septal defects
    • Ventricular septal defects
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Lung defects
  • Urogenital defects
  • Kidney defects
  • Kidney reflux

If your child was born with any of these defects and you used a PPI during pregnancy, you may be able to receive compensation.

We Can Help

Jacoby & Meyers is America's largest full-service consumer law firm, and we have stood by millions of people who have been hurt and need an ally. If your child suffered a birth defect you believe might be associated with PPI use, we want to hear from you. We may be able to get you compensation for your child's injuries.

Please contact us today for a free case evaluation. We can let you know if you have a case, and you pay no fees unless we get you compensation for your child's injuries.