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Celexa During Pregnancy and Birth Defects

Posted in Celexa Birth Defects, SSRI Birth Defects

Celexa® (citalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), one in a new class of antidepressant drugs.  These medications aim to influence (and raise) levels of a chemical called serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a molecule that relays “messages” between brain cells, or neurons.  When a neuron fires, neurotransmitters like serotonin are released from the terminal end of the firing neuron, and are collected by the “head,” so to speak, of the next neuron in line, causing that receiving neuron to fire.  When a normal number of serotonin molecules (and other neurotransmitters) are released between certain neurons and taken up in sufficient quantity by the receiving neuron, a person experiences a normal mood, sleep-wake cycle, and appetite.

Because serotonin molecules “cost” your body a lot of energy to make, the body has developed a special system for reusing serotonin molecules that were not taken up by the receiving neuron by using special transporter molecules to recapture (“reuptake”) unused serotonin molecules in the firing neuron.  In people with depression, it is often the case that the “reuptake” process happens too quickly, and serotonin molecules are taken back too quickly to be used in sufficient number by the receiving neuron.  It is also possible, in depression, the capturing of serotonin molecules in the receiving neuron takes longer than in people without depression.

Whatever the case may be, it has been found that slowing (“inhibiting”) the reuptake of serotonin and thereby allowing it to remain between neurons longer, increasing the likelihood that serotonin molecules will bind to the receiving neuron, helps diminish symptoms of depression.

Celexa® is a very popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, estimated to be used by 12 million patients worldwide.[1]  In 2005, a study was published reviewing the safety of Celexa for infants when mothers use the drug during pregnancy in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that uncovered some startling facts.

This article, titled “Citalopram use in pregnancy: prospective comparative evaluation of pregnancy and fetal outcome,” by Anna Sivojelezova et al included 396 women, divided into three groups: 132 depressed women who used Celexa® during pregnancy, 132 depressed women who used other SSRIs during pregnancy such as Prozac®, Paxil®, Zoloft®, etc., and 132 women who did not use SSRIs during pregnancy.[2]  This study did not find a significant difference between the groups with respect to birth weight or with respect to length of pregnancy.[3]

However, the study did find several important differences between groups.  Sivojelezova found that the likelihood that a newborn would require treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit is more than four times higher if a child’s mother used Celexa® during pregnancy.  Though the low numbers of children and mothers included in the test group were too low to detect the likelihood of many birth defects (most birth defects associated with Celexa® use during pregnancy are far less common than 1 in 132), this study documents clearly that Celexa® use during pregnancy places infants at a substantially-increased risk for the need of neonatal intensive care.

Because this study demonstrates that Celexa® raises the risk for negative birth outcomes, it may be used in a Celexa lawsuit to illustrate to court that since at least 2005, the manufacturer of Celexa® knew or should been aware the dangers of its product.  And because the labels of Celexa include nothing about the likelihood that children born to mothers who used Celexa® during pregnancy require neonatal intensive care even since this study was published along with many others incriminating SSRI use during pregnancy, an increasing number of Celexa® birth defect lawsuits are currently being filed.

If you used Celexa® during pregnancy and your child was born requiring neonatal intensive care or another birth defect, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Celexa birth defects lawyers for a free, no-obligation case consultation.  When you are ready, contact us at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.

We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to fight even the largest pharmaceutical companies for the justice you and your loved ones deserve.

Our SSRI Birth Defects Lawsuit Information page is a great place to start if you have any questions about SSRIs and Birth Defects.


[1]Willetts J, Lippa A, Beer B. Clinical development of citalopram. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1999;19(5 Suppl 1):36S-46S.

[2] Sivojelezova, A. (2005) “Citalopram use in pregnancy: Prospective comparative evaluation of pregnancy and fetal outcome” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol. 193; pp. 2004-2009

[3] Sivojelezova, A. (2005) “Citalopram use in pregnancy: Prospective comparative evaluation of pregnancy and fetal outcome” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol. 193; pp. 2004-2009