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SSRI / Antidepressants Linked To Birth DefectsAntidepressants have become a troubling subject when it comes to youngsters and teens. Now, some mothers are unfortunately delivering children with birth defects connected to taking drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) during their pregnancy. SSRI birth defects including heart problems, spina bifida, club foot and others are causing concern.

The following are among the potential defects which might develop in newborns of mothers who take SSRIs during pregnancy:

  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Omphalocele
  • Spina Bifida
  • Club Foot
  • Ventrical Septal Defects (VSD)
  • Atrial Septal Defects (ASD)
  • Craniosynostosis

Complaints of SSRI birth defects have been identified since at least 2005 from women who took Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, or Prozac while pregnant. SSRI drugs are generally used as antidepressants.

A New England Journal of Medicine study found that women who took SSRIs during their third trimester were six times more likely to deliver babies born with primary pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than those who didn’t take SSRIs during their third trimester. PPHN is a lung disorder that restricts the arteries and leads to blood pressure in the pulmonary artery of the heart to rise beyond control.

These symptoms may indicate PPHN:
• Heart Murmurs
• Low Blood Oxygen Levels
• Rapid Heart Rate
• Difficulty Breathing
• Bluish Skin
• Diagnosing PPHN

PPHN is a serious birth defect. Even after treatment, the baby can be susceptible to heart failure, brain hemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, or organ damage – sometimes the condition is even fatal. Babies who survive PPHN sometimes have long-term breathing difficulties, seizures, developmental disorders and hearing loss.

A Checkered Past

Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Prozac, are antidepressants that have fallen under close scrutiny for use by expectant mothers. In addition to the problems mentioned above, a small number of children, teens and young adults (up to age 24) who took antidepressants like Fluoxetine (Prozac) during clinical studies became suicidal. Prozac has been used for years to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, some eating disorders, and panic attacks, even alcoholism, ADD, sleeping disorders, Tourette’s syndrome and a selection of others.

For more information, women or expectant mothers taking SSRI medication should discuss these risks with their doctors and consult a Medication Guide that is available from the FDA website.

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett Emison

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