SSRIs & Birth Defects
Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) and Birth Defects
SSRIs are a class of drugs including Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. These drugs have been associated with birth defects when taken by pregnant women during the first and third trimesters. During the first trimester, the heart is developing. The SSRIs cross the placental barrier and have been associated with increased heart defects. The heart defects most commonly seen are atrial and ventricular septal defects [ASD/VSD]. Other defects associated with SSRI during the first trimester are Gastroschisis (intestines protruding outside of the umbilical cord), disfigured skull, and club feet.
The primary birth defect associated with SSRI use during the third trimester of pregnancy, when the lungs are developing, is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn [PPHN]. Typically, a child born with PPHN will appear to have cyanosis (lack of oxygen) and will be admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit [NICU]. The affected child will appear to recover and developmental problems will not arise until the child is between the ages of 2 and 5. Development delays may worsen with age.
In December 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] recommended that SSRI’s be avoided in pregnant women if possible. The warnings on the SSRIs have been inadequate until recently to warn mothers or doctors of the birth defects associated with SSRIs during pregnancy. Legal actions are presently being filed against the drug manufacturers for failure to warn of the potential for birth defects.