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I was taking Prozac when I fell pregnant. Now I fear the drugs harmed my unborn son; MUM FEARS ANTIDEPRESSANTS HURT BABY - Louise Fernandez yesterday.

Byline: Marion Scott

A teenager is to sue the makers of Prozac claiming his mother's use of the drug while pregnant left him severely disabled.

James Fernandez was born with a cleft nose, spina bifida and birth defects, which his family claim were caused by his mum Louise's prescribed antidepressants.

His mum was prescribed the drug, made by US-based Eli Lilly, by her Scottish GP in the 1990s.

Louise, 47, said: "The antidepressant made me feel better but I knew nothing about any risks to unborn children and was still taking Prozac when I became pregnant.

"I stopped the pills but, as that was six weeks into my pregnancy and the drug remains in your body for several weeks, I now believe the medication affected my unborn child at a crucial stage in his development." his development."

Prozac., one of the world's Prozac, one of the world's most-widely prescribed anti-most-widely prescribed antidepressants. , belongs to a category depressants., belongs to a category called SSRIs (selective serotonin called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which reuptake inhibitors), which increase the flow to the brain of increase the flow to the brain of chemicals that make people chemicals that make people happy.

In 2011, the US Food and Drug In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration warned "there Administration warned "there are no adequate and well-controlled no adequate and well-controlled studies of SSRIs in pregnant studies of SSRIs in pregnant women" and said the use of the women" and said the use of the drug in pregnant women should drug in pregnant women should only occur if the benefits outweigh only occur if the benefits outweigh the risks to th e foetus. the risks to th e foetus.

The FDA also stated: "Fluoxetine The FDA also stated: "Fluoxetine (Prozac) cro sses the placenta. (Prozac) cro sses the placenta.

Therefore, there is a possibility Therefore, there is a possibility fluoxetine may be associated fluoxetine may be associated with adverse effects on the newborn." adverse effects on the newborn."

Hundreds oflawsuits have been Hundreds oflawsuits have been launched in the US. claiming a link launched in the US. claiming a link between Prozac and birth defects. between Prozac and birth defects.

Lawyer Ca meron Fyfe is acting Lawyer Ca meron Fyfe is acting for James, Louise and James's dad for James, Louise and James's dad Michel, 42, and is in talks with a Michel, 42, and is in talks with a top litigation. lawyer in the US. top litigation. lawyer in the US.

Louise said: "I was sexually Louise said: "I was sexually abused by a neighbour when I was abused by a neighbour when I was just seven years old. As I grew up, just seven years old. As I grew up, I struggled with depression and I struggled with depression and flashbacks and my GP eventually flashbacks and my GP eventually prescribed Prozac. prescribed Prozac.

"It's agony believing what "It's agony believing what destroyed my own childhood destroyed my own childhood has destroyed my only child. has destroyed my only child.

"When he began having seizures "When he began having seizures at seven months, I started to at seven months, I started to suspect our little boy was very sick. suspect our little boy was very sick. After weeks of tests, a neurologist After weeks of tests, a neurologist explained James would never walk, explained James would never walk, talk or be able to look after CLA IM Prozac tablets himself. The shock was too much - I suffered a breakdown and was put back on Prozac.

"Michel and I did everything we could for our little boy but the worry of having another child with those difficulties meant we never had the big family we wanted."

At five, James was diagnosed as having autism, epilepsy, a tumour on his pituitary gland and his brain and problems walking.

Louise said: "We took James to Miami to live with his grandmother because she could access the best treatment. He had a nine-hour operation to remove one tumour. Another remains because doctors only gave him a 50-50 chance of survival."

US immigration rules meant Louise couldn't remain in Miami and the strain of travelling back and forth pulled the couple apart. Louise said: "Michel and I remain very close but something had to give and it was our marriage.

"James remained in Miami, home schooling."

During a trip to see James three years ago, Louise saw a US TV programme raising concerns over birth defects and links with antidepressants.

She said: "They described virtually everything James had. I could hardly speak and kept blaming myself for not being strong enough to have coped with the abuse without Prozac.

"I will never be a grandmother and James will never have a family of his own. Apart from us, he has no friends. It's heartbreaking."

Fearing she was getting too old to provide the round-the-clock care James needs, his grandmother Elizabeth Gonzalez, 59, brought him back to Scotland. Louise and Michel now help her with the extra support he needs.

Fyfe said: "We intend raising an action for damages in the US and will claim James was damaged in the womb because of medication prescribed to treat Louise's severe depression."

Drug firm Eli Lilly said: "While we are saddened to hear about this boy's condition, we do not comment boy's condition, we do not comment on individual cases or litigation. on individual cases or litigation.

"It's important to note the FDA and the European Medicines Agency conduct rigorous safety Agency conduct rigorous safety and efficacy evaluations prior to approving drugs for public use.

"Lilly have completed significant research on Prozac, which is considered as having a positive benefit risk profile for patients by regulatory authorities and physicians around the world."

James never have a family of his own and, Apart from us, he has no friends. It'sbreaks my heart

CAPTION(S):

DEVOTED Louise with James as a baby in 1998

SUPPORT James and his gran Elizabeth last week
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 25, 2015
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