Cleft lip is a common congenital birth deformity that afflicts at least one in 1,000 live births, medical journals say. It is defined as a structural abnormality appearing as a bifurcation on the outer lip caused when the tissue fails to fuse together during gestation, thus, forming a gap called a cleft. While the exact mechanism for this deformity is not known, there are possible risk factors that are believed to be the possible causes. Cleft palates may also occur alongside cleft lips. Treatment usually involves surgery over the course of the child's developing life to be most effective. In order to avoid complications associated with speech formation, feeding, teething, and ear infections that might lead to hearing loss, treatment is often recommended starting as early as two weeks.
Zoloft (Sertraline HCL) is an antidepressant under a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI's. It is a popular brand of antidepressant and also the most widely prescribed of its drug class. It increases the levels of serotonin in the blood by blocking its reabsorption to the brain. It is usually prescribed for the treatment of clinical depression, including the management of panic, anxiety and some personality disorders.
Although considered safe and well-tolerated, Zoloft is still classified by the US FDA as pregnancy category C medication similar to most SSRIs. This means that taking this drug is considered to have risks for pregnant women and their babies. Despite this information many pregnant women have claimed that taking Zoloft or other SSRI antidepressant has caused their children to be born with congenital abnormalities like cleft lip. Part of the cause for this unfortunate misunderstanding is that the information and warning of the FDA came years later after the first documented claims and studies of these types of defects were linked to Zoloft use since it was first marketed. Many studies and legal hearings have been conducted over the years since Zoloft was first released.
It is found by research that Zoloft and other SSRI medications, paroxetine in particular, increase the likelihood of children being born with certain birth defects, including cleft lip or palate. For women taking this medication, the general advice is to closely follow the consultation of their physicians to determine whether to continue or discontinue taking their medication during pregnancy. Awareness of the risks including those associated with discontinuing the medication as well as the benefits of this drug should be made available to the women planning their pregnancy. There are alternate treatments for women with only mild to moderate psychiatric conditions involving psychotherapy and psychiatric counseling. However, women with more severe cases are urged to continue taking their prescriptions as the risks for discontinuing treatment are considered to be riskier for them and their babies. Any pregnant women, particularly those taking this medication, should be closely monitored during and after their pregnancy.