July 9, 2015 — When women use the antidepressants Paxil or Prozac just before or during the first three months of pregnancy, they may double or triple the risk of having a baby with certain birth defects.
Those were the conclusions of a study published in the British Medical Journal this week.
Conclusions were based on data from 18,000 mothers of babies with birth defects, 10,000 mothers of healthy babies, and 1,285 women who used antidepressants during pregnancy.
About 40% of the women on antidepressants were taking Zoloft, but researchers did not find any evidence of a birth defect risk. No risk was seen with Celexa or Lexapro. However, Paxil and Prozac were linked to several rare but severe birth defects.
Birth defects linked to Paxil:
- Anencephaly: 3.2-fold increased risk; causes most of the skull and brain to fail to develop.
- Atrial septal defect: 1.8-fold increased risk, causes a “hole in the heart” defect.
- Right ventricular outflow tract obstruction defect: 2.4-fold increased risk; causes a heart defect.
- Gastroschisis: 2.5-fold increased risk; causes an abdominal defect.
- Omphalocele: 3.5-fold increased risk; causes an abdominal defect.
Birth defects linked to Prozac:
- Right ventricular outflow tract obstruction defect: 2.0-fold increased risk; causes a heart defect.
- Craniosynostosis: 2.9-fold increased risk; skull defect