SSRIs pose birth defects risks to pregnant women

New research shows selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs are dangerous when taken during pregnancy.

According to a report from MedicalXpress.com, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center have released a study showing many dangers of taking this popular class of antidepressants while pregnant, namely the risk of serious birth defects. The study combines the results of previous studies on the risk of birth defects posed by SSRI drugs to reach its conclusions. This study is published in a recent edition of the journal Human Reproduction.

Some of the most commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressants are Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, and Wellbutrin among others.

In addition to the evidence of the serious dangers to taking SSRI antidepressants while pregnant, the analysis of the studies noted that there is scant evidence that taking SSRIs provides any clinical benefit to expectant mothers, both in treating their depression and assuring they’ll have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Most notable among the research is the rate of infertility suffered by women who took SSRI antidepressants. Women who undergo fertility treatments – mainly those in their late 30s or early 40s – are more likely than others to treat symptoms of depression they suffer following an unsuccessful treatment with an SSRI antidepressant. Among women undergoing fertility treatments in one study, 11 percent were taking SSRI antidepressants.

The researchers found miscarriage were higher among women taking SSRI drugs and that taking the drugs directly impacts fertility. The study found evidence that SSRI antidepressants were adversely impacting a woman who was attempting fertility treatments to get pregnant. The study also highlighted the evidence showing that SSRI antidepressants taken just prior to and during pregnancy can cause congenital birth defects, some of which can be life-threatening.

Women that opt to take SSRI antidepressants are more likely to have children born with conditions like congenital clubfoot, cleft lip, cleft palate, and more serious and life-threatening side effects like developmental abnormalities, especially those affecting vital organs like the heart, lungs, brain, and basic body function systems. The antidepressants were also linked to conditions like hypertension, which can also be life-threatening. Any SSRI antidepressants taken beyond the first trimester of a pregnancy significantly increases the chances of these side effects.

Authors submit that more information must be made available to the patients and physicians noting the severity and significance of the risks associated with SSRI antidepressants. Prescriptions for SSRI antidepressants have increased by 400 percent in the U.S. in the last decade and many women between the ages of 18 and 40 are prescribed the drugs for treatment of mild to moderate bouts of depression.

Despite ample evidence that link SSRI drugs to these birth defects, many women are unaware of the risks associated with the drugs, especially their impact on a pregnancy.

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