Antidepressant Miscarriage Risk Questioned in New Study

A new study raises questions about the link between miscarriages and antidepressants, such as Paxil, Celexa and Zoloft, finding that any increased rates of miscarriages may be linked to the underlying depression or psychological disorders that the medications were prescribed to treat.

In a study published ahead of print last week by the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers looked at the risk of miscarriages among users of a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are among some of the most widely used prescription medications in the United States.

In recent years, a number of concerns have surfaced about pregnancy risks with antidepressants, including the potential increased risk of children being born with congenital birth defects or the loss of the baby when the medications are used.

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This latest research involved a review of data on more than 1.2 million pregnancies from medical registries in Denmark between 1997 and 2010. Approximately 12.6% of women who took an SSRI during their pregnancy were found to have lost their baby, compared to 11.1% among women who were not exposed to the drugs. However, researchers also found that women who discontinued treatment three months to a year before becoming pregnant had similar miscarriage rates to women who took the drugs.

“Women exposed to SSRIs during early pregnancy were at increased risk of miscarriage as were women discontinuing SSRI treatment before pregnancy, and these risks were similar,” the researchers concluded. “Therefore, treatment with SSRIs during pregnancy should not be discontinued as a result of fear of miscarriage.”

Contradictory Findings

The findings are already drawing criticism from some in the scientific community, who indicate that it is well known that fetuses need serotonin during development, and SSRI antidepressants may deny them that. They also point to a number of studies that have linked drugs like Paxil and Zoloft not only to miscarriages, but birth defects and autism as well.

According to one study published in 2010, not only did Paxil and Effexor nearly double the risk of a miscarriage, even after controlling for women with depression, but the study also found a dose-specific response. The higher the dose of the SSRI, the more likely women were to miscarry, researchers from the University of Montreal found.

Those researchers also discovered that women who took a variety of SSRIs instead of just one were also more likely to have a miscarriage.

Another more recent study, published last month in the medical journal Molecular Psychiatry, found that expecting mothers who take antidepressants were more likely to give birth to a child who would later be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In April, a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that pregnant women who use of a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were three times as likely to give birth to a boy with autism compared to women who do not take the drugs.

Many popular antidepressants have also been linked to a risk of serious health problems for children exposed to the medication before birth, including septal heart defects, skull malformations, neural tube defects, abdominal defects, spina bifida and other serious injuries.

Recent studies have also found that antidepressant use in pregnancy may increase the risk of seizure problems and delay of infant development milestones, such as sitting and walking are affected by antidepressant use during pregnancy.

Pregnancy antidepressant use may also been linked to an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), which is a serious respiratory disorder that may cause insufficient blood flow to the lungs, leading to serious and potentially life-threatening problems.

In recent years, a growing number of Zoloft lawsuits and Paxil lawsuits have been filed in courts throughout the United States on behalf of children born with defects and malformations after exposure to the medication during pregnancy. The complaints allege that the manufacturers of the medications failed to adequately research the risks associated with use of the antidepressant in pregnancy, or provide proper warnings to women about the risk of becoming pregnant while using the medication.


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