Titled “Infant serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) promoter genotype is associated with adverse neonatal outcomes after prenatal exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications.”, a paper by T.F. Oberlander et al. (2008) appearing in Molecular Psychiatry, examines a genetic dimension of the adverse effects of prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs).  This team from The University of British Columbia (Vancouver) discusses adverse birth outcomes related to exposure to these drugs.

The team writes “Reduced Apgar scores and birth weight, increased risk of respiratory distress, jitteriness and increased tone have been reported in up to 30% of neonates with prenatal exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) antidepressant medications.”  To be clear, “SRI” is for our purposes equivalent to “SSRI.”  Continuing, Oberlander states “In adults, effects of these medications may be related to the genotype for the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) promoter. In this study we investigated whether SLC6A4 genotype influences the risk for adverse outcomes in neonates with prenatal SRI exposure.”

Comparing 37 SSRI-exposed children to 47 non-exposed children, Oberlander found that different genotypes (versions) of the SLC6A4 gene were associated with different neonatal outcomes, given SSRI exposure: “Reduced 5 min Apgar scores were observed in exposed neonates and this was moderated by the ss genotype (P<0.001). Birth weight was lower in exposed ls neonates (P=0.008). Risk for respiratory symptoms (respiratory distress and rapid breathing) was higher in exposed neonates with the ll genotype compared to non-exposed neonates (P<0.05) and risk for neuromotor symptoms increased in exposed ss neonates (P<0.026).”

Noting that “These relationships remained when controlling for maternal mood during pregnancy, length of gestational medication exposure and gestational age at birth and cesarean section rate” the team concluded that “Prenatal SRI exposure was associated with adverse neonatal outcomes and these effects were moderated by infant SLC6A4 genotype” and “Relationships between polymorphisms and specific outcomes varied during the neonatal period, suggesting that beyond apparent gene-medication interactions, multiple mechanisms contribute to adverse neonatal outcomes following prenatal SRI exposure.”

Since so many women have used SSRIs while pregnant unaware of the increased risk for adverse neonatal outcomes, in part because manufacturers have failed to adequately warn, 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 had perinatal complications, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, contact our team of SSRI birth defect 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.

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