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Paxil, Prozac, and Elevated Risk for Heart Defects

Posted in Paxil Birth Defects, Prozac Birth Defects

Because depression is so common during pregnancy, “ranging between 7% and 19% in developed countries,”[1] a great deal of research is currently being published with regard to the safety of using antidepressant medications during pregnancy.  Recently, a number of birth defects have been associated with maternal use of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) during pregnancy, including serious heart and neural tube defects.  It has also recently been found that babies born to mother who had used these antidepressants during pregnancy were 60% more likely to be born early than babies born to mothers who did not use antidepressants during pregnancy.[2]

Adding to the plethora of research published about the danger of SSRI use for developing children, a recent study, the results of which were published in 2009 by Merlob et al., set out to evaluate whether or not SSRIs were cardiac teratorgens – that is, whether or not SSRIs caused heart defects.  A great deal of research has already been published reaching that very conclusion.  Evaluating 235 women who reported using SSRIs during pregnancy and comparing rates of heart defects in their children to those for the general population, Merlob et al found that children born to mothers were more than twice as likely to be born with heart defects than were other children.[3]

Further analyses revealed that Paxil® and Prozac® raised the risk for congenital (from birth) heart disease to 4.3% and 3.0%, respectively, while the rate in the general population for being born with a congenital heart defect is about half that, at 1.60%.[4]

Merlob et al corroborated the findings of other researchers, confirming the association between maternal SSRI use during pregnancy and ventricular septal defects, bicuspid aortic valve, and right superior vena cava to coronary sinus.[5]  While Merlob writes that “possible cardiac malformations will probably be mild,”[6] and the overall risk for malformation remains small, anything steps we can take to protect our children from undue harm should be taken, and pregnant women should consult their physicians about the use of SSRI or other treatment methods during pregnancy.

Due to the fact that the manufacturers of Paxil® and Prozac® do not report to users of these drugs the increased risk at which developing children are placed for being born with heart defects, those manufacturers may be held liable for injury sustained by your child.  If you used SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Paxil® lawyers and Prozac® lawyers for a free consultation at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.

We have the experience and resources needed to help you every step of the way in securing the justice you and your loved ones deserve.


[1] Stephansson, O., et al. “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors During Pregnancy and Risk of Stillbirth and Infant Mortality” Journal of the American Medical Association Vol. 309, No. 1; pp. 48-54

[2] Lennestål, R., et al. (2007) “Delivery Outcome in Relation to Maternal Use of Some Recently Introduced Antidepressants” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Vol. 27, No. 6; pp. 607-613

[3] Merlob, P., et al. (2009) “Are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Cardiac Teratogens? Echocardiographic Screening of Newborns with Persistent Heart Murmur” Clinical and Molecular Teratology Vol. 85; pp. 837-841

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.