July 2013 archive

Zoloft and the Link to Birth Defects

Zoloft Dangers

For most moms-to-be, pregnancy is a very emotional time. Not only are they dealing with an increase in the number of hormones coursing through their body, but are also preparing to bring new life into the world. While women often consider pregnancy to be an exciting time, some women can find themselves sinking into a depression. Unfortunately, some of the medications used to treat depression—including Zoloft—can have severe side effects, including the development of life threatening birth defects.

What is Zoloft?

Understanding the basics behind Zoloft is crucial for those who want to prevent the development of birth defects in their unborn children. According to Drugs.com, Zoloft is a prescription medication used in the treatment and management of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Zoloft is often classified as an anti-depressant, and falls into a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—or SSRIs. In addition to the conditions described above, some physicians and other healthcare providers may prescribe Zoloft from the management of insomnia, chronic acne, and other various conditions.

 How to Use Zoloft

As with most other medications, using Zoloft in a safe and responsible manner is very important to prevent potential complications. Individuals who receive the oral tablet form of Zoloft can feel comfortable taking the medication with or without food, as long as it is consumed at the same time each day. In contrast, those who use the liquid version of the product must carefully dilute it with water, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda before its consumption. Failing to take Zoloft in the described manner cannot only decrease its effectiveness, but may lead to serious complications or health risks for the patient.

Birth Defects Associated with Zoloft

While Zoloft is safe to use for most people, women who are pregnant should never ingest the medication. In fact, pregnant women who do take Zoloft may be at greater risk for the delivery of an infant born with moderate to severe forms of birth defect. Some of the most common birth defects associated with maternal Zoloft intake include pulmonary stenosis, tetralogy of fallot, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, ventricular septal defects, cleft palate, and skull defects. In addition, more and more research is suggesting that infants who are exposed to Zoloft in utero may be at risk for the development of Downs’ syndrome.

Seeking Assistance

Obviously, Zoloft is a dangerous drug that should not be used under any circumstances by women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. Those who suffer from depression or any of the other mental health conditions described above should talk with their healthcare provider about weaning from the prescription as soon as possible. In most cases, these women can be easily transitioned to another medication that does not feature such serious health risks. Once the baby has been born, mothers who are not breastfeeding may be able to return to the use of this product.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

brain injury

There are often misconceptions about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and who has them; for example, they only happen to elderly people who slip and fall or to professional athletes such as football players.  The truth is, a traumatic brain injury could occur at any moment, to a person of any age group or ability and for any number of reasons.  TBIs are so prevalent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that approximately 1.7 million people each year are affected and is the contributing factor in nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths.  While the statistics might be scary and may tempt you to keep your children in isolation and safety, it’s best to understand a TBI, how to recognize it, and know what to do if one occurs to someone you love.

TBIs: Aren’t Those for Football Players?

Yes, it’s true that professional athletes have had a long history of traumatic brain injuries, but they are not the only ones who can be affected or fall victim to a TBI.  According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a traumatic brain injury, by definition, is “a form of acquired brain injury, which occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain.  It can also occur when the head suddenly and violently hits an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue”.  Simply stated, the brain becomes damaged and the damage can range from mild to severe to fatal.

While no particular group of individuals is spared from ever having a TBI, the individuals at greatest risk are children aged 0 to 4 years, adults aged 75 and older, and males are more likely than females.

How am I at Risk?

You could have a TBI by simply slipping, falling, and hitting your head, but there are numerous dangerous causes that could put you and others you know, at risk for a traumatic brain injury.

  • Falls: Falls account the most common cause of TBI in infants, children and elders.  Whether you fall out of bed, slip in the tub, fall down stairs, off of ladders, or fall in your home, your accident could cause a very serious TBI.


  • Vehicle collisions:  Life threatening things can happen very quickly in the event of a car accident.  Even with air bags, seat belts and other safety measures, a driver or passenger can receive severe trauma to their heads.  Additionally, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians involved with a vehicle collision are at a higher risk of TBI as they are often less protected.


  • Violence: Violence, whether it be weapon related or domestic/child abuse, comes in many vicious and destructive forms.  Approximately 10% of TBIs are caused by violence, including gunshot wounds, domestic violence, child abuse, and “Shaken Baby Syndrome”.


  • Sports-Related Injuries:  People who play or participate in high-impact or extreme sports are at greatest risk of TBIs.  Such sports include, but are not limited to, football, boxing, soccer, baseball, skateboarding and snowboarding.  Even with the use of helmets, athletes are still at risk.


  • Explosive blasts and combat injuries:  It wasn’t until recently that researchers started to look at combat-related injuries.  It was determined that explosive blasts are a common cause of TBIs and additionally, severe blows of shrapnel or debris to the head, body collisions with an object or penetrating wounds are also causes for TBI in active-duty military personnel.


Traumatic Brain Injuries do not mean “the end”

If someone you know has suffered a TBI, it might be a long road to recovery.  Depending on the severity of the traumatic brain injury and how quickly it was assessed and taken care of, will map out a path for recovery.  Many individuals who suffer from a mild TBI may have a headache and only require rest and observation at home while others who suffer from severe TBIs may face years of rehabilitation and life may be changed forever.

Traumatic Brain Injuries are not completely preventable, but can be decreased and sometimes eliminated by ensuring proper safety gear and implements such as helmets for children, seatbelts in the car, and hand railings in a home.

You should not live in fear, worrying that you will be the next victim of a TBI.  While you should live life to the fullest, live it safely so you can enjoy it!