Heart Birth Defects Linked To Wellbutrin

Although the risks are not yet fully clear, researchers do warn about potential effects between<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/wellbutrin"> Wellbutrin and heart birth defects. Reuters wrote that there seems to be a risk—about two in each 1,000 women who took bupropion in their pregnancy’s first trimester—of cardiac birth defects. Prescribed for depression, Bupropion is also used for smoking cessation (brand name: Zyban), said Reuters.

The findings appear in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

We have written about prior studies have linked some antidepressants, specifically some popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to increased risks of some birth defects. We recently followed a prior Reuters report that discussed an announcement by Danish researchers that expectant mothers taking antidepressants may be inadvertently harming their developing babies. The antidepressants, when taken by pregnant women, could delay some “developmental milestones,” said the researchers. Of the half-million Danish children born between 1996-2003 studied in 2009, heart defect risk was increased in babies whose mothers used certain SSRIs—fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa)—in the early trimesters, said Reuters.

According to Reuters, about one in six expectant mothers in the United States is diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, with the majority treated with Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that these medications target, and is linked to mood, attention, appetite, and brain development, noted Reuters.

Researchers involved in the current study found that of the more than 12,700 U.S. babies born between 1997 and 2004, those born of mothers who took bupropion in early pregnancy experienced a more than double risk for specific heart defects versus babies whose mothers did not take the drug, wrote Reuters. The risk involved—a left outflow tract defect—disrupts blood flow from the heart’s left chambers to the rest of the body, said Reuters. The study found that the most common form of this defect was coarctation of the aorta, or a narrowing of the body’s main artery, explained Reuters. In children, this defect necessitates surgical correction.

The team looked at data from 6,853 infants born with a major heart defect and 5,869 infants with no defect, of those born with a heart defect, 0.5 percent of the mothers reported using bupropion in the month prior to pregnancy or in their first trimester, said Reuters. Ten cases involved left outflow tract heart defects; no other heart defect was linked to the drug.

American Psychiatric Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines released in 2009 noted that psychotherapy might be a good alternative to antidepressants in some pregnant women diagnosed with mild or moderate depression; however, more severe depression or major psychiatric disorders could mandate continued medication therapy.

Of note, Reuters recently reported that antidepressant medication might interfere with breast cancer treatments, causing patients to relapse and die. Also, last October we wrote that women taking SSRIs during pregnancy may be likelier to experience premature birth and that babies born to women taking SSRIs were likelier to be admitted to an intensive care unit. In November, we wrote that the likelihood of premature child delivery triples in pregnant women with a history of depression and who take certain psychiatric drugs. In that study, researchers found that the medication-depression combination, when present before or during pregnancy, was significantly associated to childbirth earlier than at 35 weeks’ gestation.

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