Pregnant women who take certain types of antidepressants are at greater risk for preterm delivery or other birth complications, according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The findings add more fuel to the argument that antidepressants not be prescribed to pregnant women and women of childbearing age unless absolutely necessary.
The study involved nearly 3,000 women who gave birth in Washington state. Researchers found that those who started taking antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, in the second or third trimester were nearly five times more likely to give birth prematurely compared to pregnant women not on the medication.
SSRIs are prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and include drugs such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), and Prozac (fluoxetine).
The study raises more concerns about the safety of SSRIs during pregnancy. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that women who took SSRIs during their third trimester were six times more likely to deliver babies born with persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), a serious lung condition, than those who did not take SSRI during their third trimester.
More studies have linked SSRIs to omphalocele, a birth defect where the intestine or other abdominal organs protrude from the naval. Other birth defects that have been reported include cleft palate, club foot, spina bifida, anal atresia, and congenital heart defects.
Beasley Allen Law Firm is currently investigating cases of birth defects and birth complications allegedly caused by SSRI use during pregnancy. These lawsuits may provide the financial resources necessary for a lifetime of care or to help pay for medical procedures for babies that may have been affected by the drugs.