This morning, I found a number of studies on PubMed (a medical research database curated by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health) that linked prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (“SSRIs,” for short) and adverse birth outcomes.  Over the past two decades, many researchers have linked SSRI exposure and birth defects, and summaries of dozens of those studies are readily available by following the preceding link.

First, a 2006 piece by Tango et al. (a research team from Switzerland) titled “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in pregnancy” published in Revue Médicale Suisse.  Studying the effects of in utero SSRI exposure, the team found that, “During organogenesis, paroxetine (Deroxat, Paxil, or generics) was associated with a significantly increased risk of major congenital malformations” and stated “After the time of organogenesis, SSRIs have also been associated to risks. Of these, the more frequent is neonatal toxicity, while pulmonary hypertension in the newborn is likely to be the more severe.” (emphasis added)  To be clear, “organogenesis” is the stage in neonatal development when organs begin to develop, and pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a condition of newborns wherein the neonate fails to adequately adapt to breathing outside the womb.

An article titled “Neonatal intraventricular haemorrhage associated with maternal use of paroxetine” published in the November, 2003 edition of British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology by Duijvestijn et al. presented a case report, stating, “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to inhibit serotonin uptake into platelets, resulting in decreased platelet function. We report a case of a large intraventricular haemorrhage in a 6-h-old boy, whose mother used paroxetine during pregnancy.”  After seven weeks of life and a great deal of medical treatment,  the infant still required “ventricular drainage and showed severe neurological abnormalities with stereotype movements, hypotony of the legs, epilepsy and abnormal eye movements with seriously disturbed visual evoked potentials.” (emphasis added)

The researchers stated, “Increased bleeding tendency after use of SSRI has been described previously for users as well as for in utero exposed fetus.  The capacity of paroxetine to cross the placenta is illustrated by reports of neonatal symptoms associated with maternal use of paroxetine.”  And as “No other predisposing factors could be discovered”, the team warned against use of SSRI drugs in last trimester.

In 2003, Y. Sari et al. published “Serotonin and its transporter on proliferation of fetal heart cells.” in International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience where they “showed for the first time that the cultured heart cells, express serotonin transporter (5-HTT), which confirmed the previously observed accumulation of 5-HT in developing heart.”  The team concluded that the “study indicated that the blockade of 5-HT uptake by paroxetine decreased the number of BrdU-im cells and MF20-im cells. These data indicate a role of 5-HT and 5-HTT on heart development” and “Abnormal 5-HT level or misuse of 5-HT uptake blocker may alter the heart development.”  This helps demonstrate how serotonin reuptake inhibitors may hinder heart development, leading to cardiovascular malformations being linked to prenatal exposure to SSRI drugs.

A 2006 piece by Knoppert et al., a team from London, Ontario, published in Therapeutic Drug MonitoringParoxetine toxicity in a newborn after in utero exposure: clinical symptoms correlate with serum levels.”, wherein a case report was presented.  About their report, the team states, “A case of an infant who was exposed to paroxetine during pregnancy” that “supports the notion of serotonin toxicity and is believed to be the first report that substantiates clinical symptoms with serum levels of the offending SSRI.”

Finally, an article titled “Birth outcomes after prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication.” published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology by V. Hendrick et al. (2003), a team from University of California (Los Angeles) further connected prenatal exposure to SSRI drugs and adverse birth outcomes.  The authors write “The purpose of this study was to examine prospectively the incidence of congenital anomalies and neonatal complications after prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication.”  Results showed that most birth outcomes among prenatally-exposed infants were similar to children in the general population, but about 3% of children had low birth weight, and “low birth weight infants had been exposed to relatively high doses of fluoxetine (40-80 mg/d) throughout pregnancy”. (emphasis added)  For clarity, “fluoxetine” is the chemical name for Prozac.

Because the manufacturers of many SSRIs have failed time and again to warn women of the risks associated with their products, a number of SSRI birth defect lawsuits have been filed.

If you or a loved one used SSRIs and gave birth to a child with a congenital malformation or who suffered an otherwise adverse birth outcome, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, contact our team of SSRI birth defects lawyers at the information provided below.  We have the experience, resources, and skills required to win the justice you deserve.  Call today and see how we can help.

(855) 452 – 5529

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