Antidepressants during pregnancy warning

Certain antidepressants may cause a life threatening risk to the baby, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine.  It’s a risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension, a serious disorder in which the arteries in the lungs are constricted.  This means that the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen in their blood.

The specific class of drugs are called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).  This includes drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft (which we talked about in the last issue of HeadWay), Paxil, and Effexor (to name just a few).  The risk occurs when the drugs are taken in the second half of pregnancy.

In the USA, Food and Drug Administration official Sandra Kweder said the agency may require new warning labels.  The risk of this disease, she said, is about 1%, although the findings are still preliminary.  Health Canada took the study seriously enough to issue a warning, although doctors are urged to weigh the benefits and risks.

Many of these SSRIs are taken as preventative migraine medication.  If you’re pregnant and taking an SSRI, don’t suddenly stop – talk to your doctor first about alternatives and what the risks are.  Going off the drugs suddenly could do more harm.

Read the Health Canada advisory for more information on the antidepressants and pregnancy.

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