Paxil Class Action LawsuitThe SSRI antidepressant drugs Prozac (fluoxetine) and Paxil may increase the risk of life-threatening birth defects when taken early in pregnancy, according to a new study.

What’s the Problem?

July 10, 2015 – For the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Boston University and the University of British Columbia looked at a cohort of more than 27,000 women who had children between 1997 and 2009.

Use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs Celexa, Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft, Prozac or Paxil at least once in the period from one month before conception through the third month of pregnancy was recorded.

Among the cohort, Zoloft was the most commonly used antidepressant, but none of the 5 previously reported birth defects linked to the drug were confirmed. However, the study did find an association between Prozac and 2 congenital malformations – heart wall defects and irregular skull shape. Paxil was also linked to birth defects of the heart, brain, skull and abdominal wall. The relative risk increased 2 to 3.5 times, depending on the defect and antidepressant.

“Continued scrutiny of the association between SSRIs and birth defects is warranted,” the researchers said, “and additional studies of specific SSRI treatments during pregnancy are needed to enable women and their healthcare providers to make more informed decisions about treatment.”

The study was published Wednesday, July 8, 2015 in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal).

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