Paxil Risky For Pregnant Women

An emerging study has found that the antidepressant, Paxil, is risky for pregnant women. Paxil (paroxetine), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, has been linked to a number of adverse reactions, especially to the developing fetus.

The Canadian study, which appears in the March 2012 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that woman taking the SSRI Paxil during and after pregnancy are at increased risks for developing high blood pressure, said TimesUnion.com. Specifically, women taking Paxil were at an astounding 80% increased risk for being diagnosed with hypertension.

The case-controlled study, conducted by Canadian researchers, utilized data from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry and involved 61,000 women 15 years of age or older when they became pregnant. Because they were considered to be suffering from chronic hypertension, women with a diagnostic code for hypertension in the 12 months before becoming pregnant and during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy were excluded from the research. Matched controls were selected from the Registry, as well.

“These findings provide clinically relevant information on the risks of antidepressant use during pregnancy from the mother’s perspective and highlight the importance of future research evaluating the impact of gestational medication use on maternal outcomes,” said study lead, Dr. Mary De Vera, post-doctoral fellow at Montréal University.

TimesUnion.com noted that Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline, set aside $2.4 billion in July 2010 to settle outstanding liabilities, including to settle Paxil birth defect lawsuits brought about by parents alleging that use of Paxil during pregnancy resulted in persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN) and other health problems in their infants. For instance, a recent study on which we wrote, published by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, found that SSRIs such as Paxil caused a two-fold increased risk of PPHN in newborns if taken by the baby’s mother during pregnancy.

PPHN is a life-threatening condition for a newborn and is caused when arteries leading to the lungs constrict upon birth, blocking blood flow and air to the vital organs. Up to 10% of newborns with PPHN do not survive treatment.

Paxil was approved in 1992 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression. In October 2004, the agency mandated stricter product warnings and prescription requirements in the form of a “black box” warning, its most serious.

In December 2005, the FDA issued an alert concerning Paxil birth defect risks after a number of studies found Paxil could increase heart defect risks when taken in the early months of pregnancy, said TimesUnion.com. Last July, a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 31 of 10,000 women who took Paxil gave birth to a child with a heart defect, compared to only seven among the same number of mothers who did not take Paxil.

In addition to Paxil, SSRI antidepressants include drugs sold under the names Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft.

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