SSRI use in third trimester linked to persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newborns

Pregnant woman SSRI use in third trimester linked to persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newbornsBabies born to women who used SSRI antidepressants during the third trimester of their pregnancies were at an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn, or PPHN, according to new research.

The study, conducted by researchers with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, Canada and the University of Toronto, involved data from seven meta-analyses. Researchers looked at maternal use of SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during different trimesters of pregnancy and the incidence of PPHN. The greatest risk of PPHN was found to be in the third trimester.

SSRIs include the brand name drugs Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa and Prozac.

PPHN is a congenital birth defect in which there is an abnormality in the circulatory transition in newborns. Normally, the blood vessels in infants relax after delivery, but in babies with PPHN, the resistance persists and more pressure is put on the right side of the heart than the left side. This leads to a right-to-left cardiac shunt with a one-way vulvar opening. PPHN can lead to one of many conditions including pulmonary underdevelopment, inadequate pulmonary perfusion, and refractory hypoxemia.

The study, published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal, was part of a larger study meant to give expecting mothers more information about side effects associated with different medications when used during pregnancy.

Researchers concluded, “It is imperative that the mother’s health be weighed heavily in treatment decisions; she and her family must be counseled on both the risks of exposing the fetus to antidepressant drugs and the risks of severe depressive illness. Pregnant women considering or using SSRIs and their families should be educated about persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, how the symptoms can range in severity, what treatments are available for it at the institution where the birth will take place, and that it can typically be managed successfully if it does occur in the context of SSRI use.”

Source: Pulmonary Hypertension News