My Child’s Killer.

August 7, 2010 at 8:23 pm 4 comments

Matthew’s death is consistent with PPHN. So what exactly is PPHN? It all has to do with the change-over from womb “breathing” to air breathing.

In the womb, the lungs are not needed to exchange oxygen because the placenta supplies the baby with their oxygen through the umbilical cord. So the blood, bypasses the lungs altogether and the blood goes directly back to the heart through a fetal blood vessel called the ductus arteriosis.

In a normal circumstance, quickly after birth when the baby begins to breathe air, the circulatory system adapts and changes. The air that the baby breathes in, changes the pressure in the lungs as the lungs inflate. The result is the ductus arteriosis permanently closes. Now the blood returning to the heart from the body can be pumped to the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide can be exchanged and the oxygen rich blood can be pumped back to the body.

In a PPHN baby, the “switch over” doesn’t happen. The ductus arteriosis stays open and the blood continues to bypass the lungs. Even with the baby breathing, the oxygen breathed in will not reach the blood stream. Because the blood bypasses the lungs, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged, the body is getting unoxygenated blood back. This is known as persistent fetal circulation (PFC).

Since the baby’s circulation has not made its normal transition and pressure in the lungs increase, it causes distress. Without oxygenated blood being able to be brought to areas of the body that need it like the brain, kidneys, liver and other organs, these organs also become distressed due to lack of oxygen.

Some signs and symptoms include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, respiratory distress and cyanosis. Unfortunately in Matthew’s case, we as his parents noticed these signs and were ignored and the staff made excuses for them. His cyanosis was due to facial bruising. His problem breathing and struggles were completely ignored. They didn’t bother to check his heart rate or oxygen levels. And in the process, his distress was finally treated with CPR for 20 desperate minutes that had no effect on his problems. The nurse administering CPR only continued to pump unoxygenated blood back throughout his body and not fixing the problem. Their way of helping, only helped to kill him.

One main way a hospital can check an infant for PPHN is to use a pulseoxymeter. This checks the oxygen levels in the blood. They did not do this even though Amery and I counted at least 6 unused, fully charged machines on the floor.

Nitric Oxide inhaled by the baby with PPHN has proven to have a high success rate in causing the much needed circulatory change over. But, of course if the staff is denying there is even a problem, this would never be considered.

Even with treatment, infants can experience shock, heart failure, brain haemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, organ damage, and death. About 20% of babies with PPHN die. And those that do survive can have long term problems. Including breathing disorders, seizures, developmental disorders and hearing loss.

This all boils down to risk factors. One of which being, that SSRI/SNRI are factors that increase these risks and must be taken seriously. The FDA Patient Information Sheet on Effexor states that babies exposed in-utero suffer withdrawal symptoms which include agitation, insomnia, and feeding difficulties. Here Health Canada has given similar warnings. On July 10, 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory that asked the makers of the drugs to change their prescribing information to include the risk of PPHN. Effexor is listed as pregnancy Category C. This has been out for 3 years when Matthew was born. And yet, every health care practitioner, mental health person, or any medical staff has never heard about it until we’ve brought it to their attention. These warnings and letters are not good enough. The government needs to make sure that when a health issue is warned, it needs to get to all the medical care persons. And that there should be some confirmation that these people have read them. Sure I understand that doctors would have so much to read. But we are talking about our health and lives. If there is much concern over a drug and that there are repercussions that are dangerous, then maybe they should be removed from the doctors prescribing list.

All hospital staff on a neonatal floor should be taught to recognize the signs and symptoms. And to be especially vigilant with babies whose mothers are on SSRI/SNRI’s. There is no excuse for this. When you go to have a baby, you have a medical file. It is written in the file under medication. I even told the specialist prior to Matthew’s birth that I was on Effexor and I had fears of his birth being similar to Jacob’s. She told me not to worry. She would be there (she wasn’t) and that she would read Jacob’s file (irrelevant if you’re not even there). I did worry anyway and my previous experience and words didn’t change the fact that refused to say something was wrong and do something to save his life. All I can do now, is to try to get this information out there, and correct those doctors that still believe that antidepressants are safe. It’s that complacency that killed my son. They are not safe and someone must be accountable to change the rules of the game. I hold the government liable to make sure Health Canada follows the rules and try to keep us safe. It’s a long shot in my lifetime, but I know I must try with everyone else screaming for a difference.

My child’s killer all boils down to Effexor exposure and medical negligence. So many warnings have been released. My past experiences and feelings of something being dreadfully wrong. Matthew’s poor colour and breathing. All caused by my Effexor prescription that was constantly viewed as safe during pregnancy. And his subsequent death happened because of the complacency of the staff that refused to listen to the parents and admit that these drugs are dangerous. Now Matthew is officially considered a statistic under Health Canada’s Adverse Reaction Database. The pathologist who did his autopsy has sent the results to Health Canada that a child has died due to exposure involving Effexor XR 1 hour after his birth.


Entry filed under: Effexor, Infant Death, Infant loss, mothers act, Patent Ductus Arteriosis, Pregnacy, psychiatry, SSRI, Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. schultzc  |  August 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I tried to post this for everyone to read on the web site, but when clicking on the “comment” section it would not bring up the page. I wanted to post this for everyone to read. You can paste it to your web site if you want to. You have my permission to do just that.

    I am so very sorry for your losses, and feel you are very brave and doing the right thing for babies and parents in the future to pursue this. I understand better than most, because my daughter was a textbook picture of a congenital heart disorder called Congenital Long QT Syndrome, and yet she is dead today because two cardiologists missed the diagnosis. When she was 22, she died suddenly in her sleep, and had been dead too long to be resuscitated when I found her in her bed at home.

    After she died an expert doctor in the field took a look at all her cardiac test results and right away discovered an “abnormality” on her Holter monitor heart test, but for us it was too late. God Bless You and Your Family now for making yourself vulnerable emotionally now, to get the word out on this. Canada may well tackle this problem ahead of the U.S. because of your efforts, but please try to get the word out in the U.S. also. Again, my heart goes out to you and your family.

    I agree that sometimes doctors get too casual about all of this, and I cannot believe how lax the monitoring of newborns really is nowadays. In the U.S. many times they “room” with the mothers right after delivery, and are not even on monitors nor are they even in an observation nursery for even a few hours.

    I just had a new granddaughter in San Diego on Aug. 3rd, and my son attested to this. The newborn baby girl was never taken into any kind of nursery for observation after birth, even though my son has the gene for Long QT Syndrome, nor was she on a heart monitor for even a short time after birth.

    I also noticed when my Mom was dying in a hospital in St. Louis, that they don’t always even clean those pulse oximeters properly between patients. You do all these very sophisticated things to keep infections down, worrry about MRSA, staph germs, etc. and then the blood pressure cuffs are used patient to patient.

    Many times the medical staff doesn’t even wash their hands as they should. Geling has often taken the place of proper hand washing first, before geling. We have a long ways to go IMO for good health care in the U.S. I don’t know much about the Canadian system. Again, thank you so very much for your huge efforts to get the word out on the dangers of SSRI’s being used in mothers during pregnancy.


    Christine Puricelli
    Emilie’s Mom Now and Forever
    Chandler, AZ
    Phone: 480 892 7444

    • 2. schultzc  |  August 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      Yes. Lax ideas for everything. I am attachment parenting mother, so I believe that the first few hours are crucial to bonding after birth, so I like to room with my babies. But there is no need for nurses to be non-existent. All my other babies (excluding Jacob as he was in NICU) were in my room, and I found myself bombarded with nurses all the time checking on my baby. Unfortunately, when it came to Matthew, after all our voiced concerns on his colour and breathing, they disappeared. Had he had a pulsoximeter, when his 02 levels dropped, it would beep loudly. I know. Jacob’s beeped very often and I could hear it down the hall. I think that the vigilance of nurses in the first few hours are crucial. And I agree that equipment and hands need to be cleaned all the time. I don’t see medical staff wash their hands as often as they should. And I never thought about the blood pressure cuff. I will bring that up to my doctor for sure.
      I’m not sure we can do much here in Canada, as I’ve mentioned before, being in BC we don’t have a case. And unfortunately, a lawsuit seems to get great media attention. We only seem to be accomplishing such a little bit. But every bit helps. I am glad to be able to inform some doctors as to these problems for the first time. A little step at a time I guess.
      So sorry again about your daughter. We’ve heard of prolonged QT from another person who’s daughter died at 15 from a medication that caused it. He was able to get a coroners inquest and a lawsuit (he’s in Ontario) and so his story was newsworthy. Continue your work as well with your story.

    • 3. Shelly Geah  |  April 4, 2011 at 3:53 am

      I stumbled upon your website while surfing the web. I am sorry for your loss. I have been on Effexor for more than seven years. I did not know of the problems with Effexor that you point out in your blog. Thank you for sharing your story. Knowing your experience will help when I decide to have kids of my own.

  • 4. brittany chulata  |  March 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    i am SO sorry for your loss. i was wondering if we could chat.. i’m 14 weeks pregnant and taking effexor XR (75mg) and all the stupid ass doctors keep telling me its fine but now im seeing warnings all over the place? im terrified for my baby…..


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  • Is not coping well at all. Loss sucks! 8 years ago
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