SSRI Antidepressants Linked To High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy

SSRI antidepressants, such as Paxil Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac and Celexa, have been linked to high blood pressure during pregnancy, according to a new study. This is just one of several reports of disturbing adverse reactions linked to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on which we have written.

The case-control study, conducted by Canadian researchers, utilized data from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry, said Pulse Today, and revealed an increased risk of gestational hypertension of up to 80% in pregnant women. The data involved 61,000 women who were 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, said Pulse Today. Matched controls were selected from the Registry, as well. The research revealed a 53% increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension linked with antidepressant use during pregnancy. SSRIs were significantly linked to this risk, with Paxil (paroxetine) linked to an 81% increased risk.

“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. The study appears in the March 21 online issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology.

We just wrote that another study revealed that the use of SSRI antidepressants may impact a developing fetus when taken by an expectant mother during pregnancy. That study was published in the March 5 online edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry, and revealed that babies exposed to SSRIs in utero are likelier to exhibit reduced head growth at birth. Use of SSRIs also appeared to be associated with a higher risk of preterm birth.

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

A growing body of research has linked these medications to birth defects when used by pregnant women, especially in the early months of pregnancy when many women don’t realize they are pregnant. Another recent study, published by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, found that these popular antidepressant drugs cause a two-fold increased risk of neonatal pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newborns if taken by the baby’s mother during pregnancy.

Last month, we wrote that three mothers filed lawsuits against the makers of Lexapro, alleging they promoted the SSRI toward women of childbearing age, including expectant mothers, despite knowing the drug’s risk for pregnant women. The plaintiffs claim that their use of Lexapro during their pregnancy caused their children to suffer birth defects, including spina bifida, club foot, and oral clefts. All of the plaintiffs claim they would never have taken Lexapro while pregnant had they been informed of its risks.

As we’ve mentioned, a growing body of research has linked SSRIs to birth defects, including congenital heart defects, lung defects, and abdominal birth defects.

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