According to a recently released Danish study, pregnant women taking an SSRI were twice as likely to have pre-term delivery as other women, and their babies were also more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit after delivery. Specifically, women taking an SSRI delivered their baby an average of five days earlier and babies exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy were far more likely to have a five-minute Apgar score — a measure of a newborn’s health scored between 0 and 10 — of seven or below. Any score below seven is generally regarded as low.
Additionally, the study found that women who take more than one SSRI quadrupled the risk of their babies experiencing a septal heart defect, which is a defect in the wall that divides the heart’s left and right sides. For those women taking only one SSRI, the study revealed that use of Celexa and Zoloft early in pregnancy doubled and tripled the risk for the heart defect, respectively. While the association between SSRIs and birth defects has been reported for several years, this is the first study to specifically highlight the increased risk with Celexa and Zoloft.
In September 2005, information emerged that revealed an association between Paxil and birth defects, including cardiac (heart), pulmonary (lung), neural-tube defects (brain and spinal cord), craniosynostosis (abnormally shaped skull) infant omphalocele (abdominal wall defects), club foot (one or both feet turn downward and inward), and anal atresia (complete or partial closure of the anus). In a recently concluded Philadelphia trial, which was the first of 600 filed cases to go to trial, evidence was presented that GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Paxil, knew of the possible risk of birth defects since 1997 yet failed to disclose the information and, in fact, intended to bury any negative studies. Furthermore, documents showed that Glaxo had gotten a report of a birth defect in 2001 and was “almost certain” that the defect was related to the mother’s use of Paxil.
Since the initial health advisory related to Paxil in 2005, the FDA issued an alert in July 2006 warning about the increased risk of Neonatal Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN) to babies born to mothers taking SSRI antidepressants including Celexa, Fluvoxamine, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Symbyax and Zoloft. The recent Danish study provides further evidence that the risk of birth defects is associated with all SSRIs, not only Paxil.
If you ingested one of these antidepressant drugs while pregnant and there were complications with your pregnancy as described above, then you should immediately contact Pogust Braslow & Millrood for a free consultation with attorneys who continuously battle the pharmaceutical industry fighting for their clients’ rights.