Well­ness Arti­cles

Anti­de­pres­sant Poses Risk to Unborn Baby

This Feb­ru­ary 8, 2006 USA Today arti­cle starts off with a grave warn­ing to preg­nant women, “Women who take a com­mon type of anti­de­pres­sant dur­ing the sec­ond half of their preg­nancy are about six times more likely to give birth to a baby with a rare but poten­tially fatal heart and lung condition.”

The prob­lems come from drugs called SSRI anti­de­pres­sants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. The poten­tial prob­lem is a rare but seri­ous sit­u­a­tion called PPHN: per­sis­tent pul­monary hyper­ten­sion of the new­born. Nor­mally, the rate of PPHN is one or two per 1000 babies. The recent study shows the rate of this prob­lem to rise to 1 in 100 in women tak­ing these anti­de­pres­sants late in their preg­nancy. PPHN kills up to 20 per­cent of babies and half the sur­vivors are left with seri­ous abnormalities

The study, prompt­ing the alarms, is pub­lished in the Feb­ru­ary 9, 2006 issue of the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine. Lead author on the study, Christina Cham­bers, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Depart­ments of Pedi­atrics and Fam­ily and Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine at UCSD noted that the risk of inci­dence of these prob­lems are higher in women tak­ing these anti­de­pres­sants. She states, “Based on our find­ings, we esti­mate that six to twelve moth­ers per thou­sand who use an SSRI after 20 weeks’ ges­ta­tion, are likely to deliver a child with PPHN.”

Dr. San­dra Kweder, deputy direc­tor of the office of new drugs at the FDA’s cen­tre for Drug Eval­u­a­tion and Research com­mented, “This appears to be a very well-​conducted study and we find the results to be very concerning.”

In an unre­lated study pub­lished in the Feb­ru­ary 2, 2006 issue of the Archives of Pedi­atrics & Ado­les­cent Med­i­cine, it was deter­mined that almost one-​third of infants born to moth­ers using SSRI anti­de­pres­sants at or near term expe­ri­enced with­drawal symp­toms known as neona­tal absti­nence syn­drome, or NAS. In other words these infants are sub­ject to with­drawal symp­toms. This syn­drome is char­ac­ter­ized by high-​pitched cry­ing, tremors, and sleep dis­tur­bances. The authors of the study also note, “The long-​term effects of pro­longed expo­sure to SSRIs, par­tic­u­larly in neonates who develop severe symp­toms, have yet to be determined.”

Ran­dom Article

The April 10th issue of the British Med­ical Jour­nal (BMJ) con­tains a clin­i­cal review that shows that anti­de­pres­sants should not be pre­scribed as

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