Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to people suffering from depression. This often includes pregnant women, due to the increased risk of complications when a pregnant mother is suffering from untreated depression. Unfortunately, the medications prescribed to pregnant women with depression have also been associated with malformations of the fetus. Many studies have been conducted to quantify the association between SSRI use during pregnancy and the risk of malformation of the fetus.
Several of these studies have been summarized and published in the journal Prescrire International, and one of them, titled “SSRI antidepressants and birth defects” in part reviews several other research papers on the topic. One study referenced by the authors of that paper claimed “Between 20% and 30% of newborns exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) toward the end of gestation have disorders such as agitation, abnormal muscle tone and suction, seizures and hyponatraemia.”
A Danish study estimated that the congenital malformation risk of taking SSRIs during pregnancy, relative to the general population, was quantified to be “1.4 (95% CI 1.1-1.9) and the relative risk of cardiac malformation was 1.6 (95% CI 1.0-2.6).” This means that the risk for a birth defect in your child if you use SSRIs in pregnancy is 40% higher than if you do not use SSRIs, and that the risk for heart defects is 60% higher than if one were not to use SSRIs during gestation.
An American study that compared the risks of paroxetine to all other SSRIs reported that “the estimated relative risk for all congenital malformations was 2.20 (95% CI 1.34-3.63), and the estimated relative risk of cardiovascular malformations was 2.08 (95% CI 1.03-4.23)”. Essentially, this study claimed that paroxetine was twice as likely to result in some kind of fetal malformation. A Swedish study reported similar results, concluding that paroxetine was associated with a 2.22 (95% CI 1.39-3.55) increased likelihood of cardiac malformations relative to the general population.
Lastly, a case-control study estimated the “relative risk of omphalocele was 3.0 with all SSRIs (95% CI 1.4 to 6.1), and the estimated relative risk of craniosynostosis was 1.8 (95% CI 1.0-3.2).” Omphalocele is a condition characterized by malformations in the abdomen, while craniosynostosis is a malformation of the skull.
The report concludes, “all SSRIs have been implicated in a possible increase in the risk of congenital malformations, but the most worrisome evidence concerns paroxetine.” (Paroxetine is the main active ingredient in Paxil.)
With the publication of so many studies like this, many birth defect lawsuits have been filed, including a number of Paxil birth defect lawsuits. If you or a loved one used Paxil during pregnancy (or another SSRI) and your child was born with a birth defect, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Paxil® birth defects lawyers at the information provided below. We have the experience, resources, and skills required to win the justice you deserve.