July 29, 2011Antidepressant use during pregnancy may increase birth defects risk

The use of antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft may increase a child’s risk of birth defects when taken by women during pregnancy. Paxil and Zoloft are part of a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which have been linked in multiple studies to an increased risk of birth defects. Other SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac.

Studies have found that the use of Paxil during pregnancy can increase a baby’s risk of heart defects such as atrial septal defects (ASD), ventral septal defects (VSD), persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and other birth defects. The use of Zoloft while pregnant can increase the risk of septal defects, ventricular outflow tract defects, PPHN, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and other types of birth defects.

Hundreds of parents whose children were born with birth defects after using Zoloft, Paxil or other SSRIs during pregnancy have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these drugs. Despite warnings about the risk of using antidepressants during pregnancy, the FDA has not announced any plans to issue a recall of Zoloft or Paxil.

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