Mental Health Medications During Pregnancy: Oregon Medical Malpractice

failure to diagnose a heart attack cancer misdiagnosis mental health medications during pregnancy

Understanding How Mental Health Medications During Pregnancy Could Result in Oregon Medical Malpractice


Pregnancy is an exciting time.  It is also a worrying time.  There is a lot of information that an expecting family needs to go through to process.  This includes medications that the mother is already on, including mental health medications.  But it also includes issues for women who are trying to conceive or expecting, and have pre-existing mental health struggles, or are experiencing them for the first time during the pregnancy process. This is because some mental health medications during pregnancy could result in serious personal injuries to a baby, including birth defects or even a miscarriage.  This could result in Oregon medical malpractice and birth injuries.


Mental Health is Important, Especially During Pregnancy


With life becoming more complex by the day, it is becoming increasingly important to address mental health concerns. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) reported this past August that, in a survey of 5,470 people, 40.9 percent of a representative panel stated that they have an adverse mental or behavioral health condition. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (“NAMI”) outlines that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness, while 1 In 25 suffer from a serious mental illness. A whopping 19 percent of Americans cited that they had anxiety during a 12-month span. These diseases, and they are diseases, do not discriminate—they can affect anyone of any race, age, creed, sexual orientation, and so on and so forth.


Oregon’s suicide rate is higher than the average in the United States, in all age groups, from 15 up to 85 plus. It has even been ranked the worst State for mental health, as recently as 2020.


But you may not need to know the statistics to comprehend the magnitude of mental illness in this Country. Perhaps you even already know the poor state of Oregon’s mental illness health. You may have a loved one or friend who experiences these struggles firsthand. You may also go through them yourself, or have battled them in the past.


It certainly holders a deeper meaning for women who are trying to conceive or are expecting, and take certain medications to manage their mental illness struggles. Unfortunately, it is often recommended that a woman stay off as much medication as possible, especially in the first three months. However, if a woman will become psychotic, manic, severely depressed, or suicidal, to name a few, without psychiatric medication, her doctor should help her manage that and mitigate the associated risks. Also contact our Oregon-based Attorneys to ensure your medication management was not negligently carried out.


Mental Health Medications Pregnant Women Can and Should Not Take


According to the Mayo Clinic, the following mental health medications are acceptable to take and are advised to not take:


Can Take:


Type of Drug General Classification Individual Types
Certain Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (“SSRIs”) Antidepressant Celexa; Zoloft
Certain Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (“SNRIs”)  Antidepressant Cymbalta; Effexor XR
Tricyclic Antidepressants Antidepressant Pamelor; Norpramin
Other Antidepressant Wellbutrin
n/a Vitamin Folic acid


Should Not Take:


Type of Drug General Classification Individual Types
n/a Mood stabilizer Lithium
n/a Anticonvulsant Valproic acid
Benzodiazepine Anxiety Xanax
Benzodiazepine  Anxiety Valium
SNRI Antidepressant Paxil
Tricyclic Antidepressants Antidepressant Anafranil
n/a Many other vitamins potentially n/a


****These charts are not all inclusive and should not be substituted for medical advice.****


Pregnancy and Mental Health Medications – The Risks


A major rule of thumb in managing a trying to conceive or pregnant woman’s medication is balancing out the risks and rewards. Specifically, whether it is safer for the mother and baby for the mother to take the medication, or not take the medication. For example, Lithium, a mood stabilizer, usually used to treat Bipolar Disorder, is generally discouraged for the first three months of pregnancy because it increases the likelihood of congenital malformations. Severe congenital malformation examples include Down Syndrome and heart defects. 


On the other hand, Lithium may be encouraged if it means that the mother would become manic without it. Becoming manic could entail the mother engaging in risky behavior that puts the baby’s life in danger as well. 


Although some of the severest impacts include birth defects, heart defects, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy, for example, other impacts that have been found to hurt the infant include:


  • Feeding difficulties 
  • Tachycardia (rapid or irregular heart rate) 
  • Agitation
  • Temperature regulation difficulties
  • Motor restlessness
  • Parkinson-like movements
  • Tremor
  • Seizures
  • Functional bowel obstruction
  • Urinary retention
  • Jitteriness
  • Blue skin due to poor circulation
  • Respiratory distress
  • Gestational diabetes (mother and baby)


It should be noted, though, that the impact of many drugs on infants is unknown, as doctors and scientists do not want to test a medication on an infant and consequently, injure them. This could result in Oregon birth injuries due to medical malpractice.


Properly Managing a Pregnant Woman’s Mental Health Medications


Again, the pros and cons of certain mental health medication(s) needs to be seriously weighed, by the doctor, in conjunction with the patient. There are some medications that are very discouraged and others that are generally encouraged, if needed. You cannot know all of this on your own—your doctor should be supplying you with this information so you can make an informed and educated decision. If you feel you were not supplied with adequate information to make an informed decision and you or your infant suffered as a result, speak with our Oregon Attorneys before you decide to sue.


Could Medication Errors Be Medical Malpractice in Oregon?


If mental health medications during pregnancy are not properly reviewed, evaluated, and monitored, it could result in serious personal injuries to the baby or the mother.  This means it could be due to medical malpractice and result in serious personal injuries to an innocent person—such as a baby. 


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

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