Wellbutrin Side Effects Linked to Heart Birth Defect Risk: Study

The results of a recent medical study suggests that there may be an increased risk of heart birth defects from Wellbutrin when the antidepressant is taken during pregnancy. 

U.S. researchers, including scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined the side effects of Wellbutrin on pregnant women in a study published last month by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Wellbutrin (bupropion HCI), which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was first approved by FDA as an antidepressant in December 1985. The drug was pulled a year later due to the high number of seizures associated with Wellbutrin side effects, but it was reintroduced in 1989 after federal reviewers determined that the seizures were dose specific and lowered the daily dosage of the drug.

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Researchers in the latest birth defect study looked at 12,700 children born in the U.S. between 1997 and 2004. Scientists found that mothers who used bupropion during their first trimester were more than twice as likely to give birth to an infant with a congenital heart problem known as a left outflow tract defect.

The heart birth defect can restrict the flow of blood to the rest of the body from the heart’s left chambers, and often must be surgically corrected to allow the child’s main artery to function properly.

Researchers cautioned that the study does not draw a cause-and-effect relationship between Wellbutrin and birth defects, and further research is necessary. They also noted that it does not mean women on bupropion should stop taking the drug if they are planning a pregnancy. The overall number of children born with the defect was still small in cases where the mother took Wellbutrin in the first trimester; about 2 in every 1,000 births.

13 Comments

  • CharlesJune 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    What are the risks of birth defects in children if the father was on webuterin at the time of conception?

  • CharlesJune 9, 2014 at 5:25 am

    What are the risks of birth defects in children if the father was on webuterin at the time of conception?

  • TrinaApril 3, 2013 at 4:08 am

    I took wellbutrin during my 6th pregnancy, all previous pregnancies produced healthy children. At 22 weeks gestational my son died. Autopsy was inconclusive... But I will always wonder.

  • KeithDecember 18, 2010 at 12:02 am

    My third son was exposed to Wellbutrin for a short time during his first trimester. He was found at 2 months to have Aortic Stenosis and an aortic valve defect. Major surgery was needed to correct it and now we live with the possibility of future surgeries hanging over our heads. I was horrified to learn that this was probably caused by a pharmaceutical company. There needs to be an internet s[Show More]My third son was exposed to Wellbutrin for a short time during his first trimester. He was found at 2 months to have Aortic Stenosis and an aortic valve defect. Major surgery was needed to correct it and now we live with the possibility of future surgeries hanging over our heads. I was horrified to learn that this was probably caused by a pharmaceutical company. There needs to be an internet site where everyone can share their experiences and stay in touch.

  • MeganNovember 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I have been on wellbutrin for awhile . Well 3 months in i found out i was preggo, i stopped immediatley .. well i delievered at 37 weeks a still born lil girl my heart was instantley broke. The doctor who delievered said it was the umbilical cord but my ob said it could not have been.. so we refused the autopsy and now we will never know what caused her heart to stop beating i will always wonder i[Show More]I have been on wellbutrin for awhile . Well 3 months in i found out i was preggo, i stopped immediatley .. well i delievered at 37 weeks a still born lil girl my heart was instantley broke. The doctor who delievered said it was the umbilical cord but my ob said it could not have been.. so we refused the autopsy and now we will never know what caused her heart to stop beating i will always wonder if it was the wellbutrin !

  • shawnaOctober 9, 2010 at 2:05 am

    i took wellbutrin durring my pregnancy in 2006.he was stillborn at 6 months and my dr. could'nt figure out what went wrong. the dr. who gave me the wellbutrin told me it was the only one safe to take while pregnet. as if i was'nt mentaly unstable enough, now i mourn my son.

  • BonnieSeptember 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

    My son was diagnosed with a murmur and was under watch for a few years by his heart doctor. He was diagnosed with a pulmonary stenosis requiring surgery at age 3. I was taking wellbutrin for a portion of my pregnancy. This upsets me that Big Pharma seems to sell whatever they want and use us like guinea pigs.

  • keishaSeptember 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I have 3 kids...youngest two of which I took wellbutrin with and both have CHD. Wellbutrin is the only thing different I did with my 3 pregnancies! My daughter has had two surgeries and a heart catherization and one more surgery to go and my son who is only 6 months has had one. Doctors were very surprised to have one parent with two kids with heart defects. Its not very common for one family to h[Show More]I have 3 kids...youngest two of which I took wellbutrin with and both have CHD. Wellbutrin is the only thing different I did with my 3 pregnancies! My daughter has had two surgeries and a heart catherization and one more surgery to go and my son who is only 6 months has had one. Doctors were very surprised to have one parent with two kids with heart defects. Its not very common for one family to have two cardiac kids. When I saw the wellbutrin alert I only read it out of curiosity cause I had been on it twice but to see what the alert was I was astonished! I now am starting to think this is why I had two children with heart defects...especially since its so uncommon to have two with cardiac problems. I am still just overwhelmed with this information!!!

  • DianaAugust 31, 2010 at 2:23 am

    I took Wellbutrin during the first trimester of prenancy. My son was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome with pulmonary and tricuspid atresia. He has had all three surgeries and is doing well. However, I would not recommend any medications like this for anyone planning to be or currently pregnant. If this was the cause of his condition, much more research needs to be done before doctors con[Show More]I took Wellbutrin during the first trimester of prenancy. My son was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome with pulmonary and tricuspid atresia. He has had all three surgeries and is doing well. However, I would not recommend any medications like this for anyone planning to be or currently pregnant. If this was the cause of his condition, much more research needs to be done before doctors continue prescribing these medications.

  • BethAugust 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I feel bad that we all have to go through this tradegy.

  • MelissaAugust 25, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I stopped taking welbutrin in august and got pregnant in october 2007 . My son was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome in June 2008, he has been through 2 open heart surgeries all ready and still have 1 surgery left to go, I really think that the heart defects can be linked to this drug. Faith and god has gotten us through all the obstacles

  • KristinJune 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I was on wellbutrin for my entire pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful little girl with a VERY bad heart

  • CrystalMay 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I was researching to see if Wellbutrin could have been the cause of my son's birth defects. I am six months pregnant and they have told me my son has Hypoplastic Left Heart syndrome and Restrictive Atrial septum. I had taken Wellbrutrin for only 11 weeks of the pregnancy not knowing I was pregnant. I did not know I was pregnant until I was 13 wks. The reason was I was on birth control that had nev[Show More]I was researching to see if Wellbutrin could have been the cause of my son's birth defects. I am six months pregnant and they have told me my son has Hypoplastic Left Heart syndrome and Restrictive Atrial septum. I had taken Wellbrutrin for only 11 weeks of the pregnancy not knowing I was pregnant. I did not know I was pregnant until I was 13 wks. The reason was I was on birth control that had never failed before. No one told me that Wellbutrin can cause the risk of pregnancy to be higher. I did not worry about it when i missed my cycles because I have a history of missed cycles or just spotting even on birth control specially if I am under stress. I had stop taken Wellbutrin before I find out I was pregnant due to the fact I got tired of not sleeping and walking around like a zombie.

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