Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Linked to Birth Defects

By Gary Cutlack on at

Researchers claim to have found a link between taking common antidepressants and a small increase in the risk of birth defects in children, suggesting that pregnant women and their GPs might want to steer clear of Prozac and Paxil.

The research looked at 17,952 mothers of babies born with birth defects and 9,857 mothers of those born without problems. They looked for use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, the most common form of modern happy tablet, either before or in early pregnancy.

Big brand celebrity antidepressants Prozac and Paxil were singled out, with the authors finding new evidence that the drugs can be linked with greater occurrences of heart, skull and intestinal development problems. That said, the rise in likelihood is still rather small. When looking at the chances of a child being born with anencephaly due to the use of Paxil by the mother, it rose from two cases per 10,000 births to seven per 10,000, meaning it's still statistically very unlikely.

The report authors say: "Continued scrutiny of the association between SSRIs and birth defects is warranted and additional studies of specific SSRI treatments during pregnancy are needed to enable women and their healthcare providers to make more informed decisions about treatment." [Independent]

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