SSRI Side Effects and Pregnancy
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants taken during pregnancy may increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newborns, according to recent studies.
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that pregnant women who were prescribed antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft - are at an increased risk for giving birth to infants with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN).
According to the study, PPHN is a serious condition, which requires immediate treatment involving severe respiratory failure in infants. Normally, the condition occurs in about one in a thousand babies. But researchers have found that pregnant women taking SSRIs increased their odds of having a child born with PPHN by six times.
In a move to alert women who are pregnant, or may become pregnant, about the risks associated with SSRI side effects, the FDA is ordering new warning labels for Paroxetine, which is sold under the name Paxil, after studies linked the drug to heart-related birth defects in newborns.
Other studies have shown that babies born to mothers on antidepressants may exhibit signs of withdrawal in the first few days after birth. According to a study that was published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, out of 60 infants that were exposed to antidepressants in the womb, nearly a third experienced tremors, gastrointestinal problems, and sleep disturbances while two of those studied suffered seizures.
On balance, studies have shown that pregnant women exposed to antidepressants other than SSRIs are not at an increased risk for delivering children with PHHN. The same is true for women who discontinued their use of SSRIs, such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft - in the first half of pregnancy.
There have been a few studies that show what happens to women, and their infants, when they stop taking antidepressants. The use of antidepressants by women during pregnancy is widespread, since depression during pregnancy is very common. Without an antidepressant, depressed women may stop eating or become suicidal.
Although the FDA has issued stronger warnings on SSRI labels, and has said that it intends to do more research, in recent years, it has been criticized for acting too slow as demonstrated by the recent Vioxx debacle.
ATTENTION: If you or your baby has experienced any SSRI side effects, you are not without recourse. There are legal steps that may be pursued to obtain compensation for victims of dangerous pharmaceuticals. Contact the drug injury lawyers at Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, for a free case evaluation by calling our 24/7 toll-free hotline at 1-800-988-8005 or by submitting an email inquiry (see form above).
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