Another study (this time in the BMJ) finds an increased risk in heart defects, the severity of the risk depending on which SSRI you took. I see no mention of Paxil, which is curious in and of itself. (See: Paxil more powerful teratogen than Cocaine, court documents from the first Paxil birth defect trial, and other related articles concerning this trial on the Seroxat Sufferers blog. By the way, thanks to Fiddy for embedding our @pledgie “Stop Preventable Infant Deaths and Birth Defects” link!)
Also they seem anxious to let other birth defects off the hook and to regard not using SSRIs as not getting treatment. That’s ridiculous considering antidepressants can barely be considered to work at all and that they can actually make you worse and induce violence. How well do they work when your baby dies because of them? Are you supposed to feel happy if you keep taking your drugs?
This study seems to indicate that “about two” babies per 250 women who took an SSRI were born with a heart defect. I assume (though I haven’t read the study yet) that nobody looked at the heart defects leading to abortions or that they were not thinking about the babies who had so many other defects that they died in utero or after birth from some sort of “syndrome.” Probably like in other studies they would have excluded those babies with genetic problems that were linked to heart defects and multiple other defects, without considering if the rate of genetic defects was higher in the SSRI exposed group. If you don’t count all the miscarried babies either and you try to look at each individual type of heart defect and birth defect separately you can pretend the risk is small. But if you group all the risks together the supposed benefit pales in comparison to the risk. We know that antidepressants usually work about as well as a placebo (about one third of people showing mild improvement). But we also know that one third of women who expose their babies to antidepressants have a baby who is born early or underweight, who has seizures, or who dies (“women who take SSRIs have an increased risk of giving birth to a fetus who dies, having a premature delivery, giving birth to an underweight baby, and delivering babies who experience seizures. According to the study almost one-third of women on SSRIs experienced at least one of the complications”). So think about all the risks you would be exposing your baby to and then ask yourself if that’s depressing.
According to just this study, on average about two out of every 250 women taking SSRIs had a baby with a heart defect, compared to about one out of 250 who did not take SSRIs. But the same study said that the risk was more than three times higher with Zoloft than the non-exposed group, more than doubled with Celexa, and almost five times higher with more than one SSRI.
“Sertraline more than tripled the risk, while citalopram more than doubled it. Using more than one SSRI nearly quintupled the risk of the heart defect.”
Two out of 250 is the same as .8 people per 100, or .008. That’s pretty close to bordering on the drug companies’ version of “frequent.” It’s definitely not in the rare category. But with Sertraline (Zoloft) it would be .012 or 1.2 babies per 100 babies, well into the frequent reaction zone. This is just one study and it’s hard to say without having read the whole thing how they came up with their results or what type of heart defect they looked at. I will update more later as I have time to do more research.
To see reports to the FDA of birth defects and deaths with psychiatric drug exposure go here: http://www.cchrint.org/psychdrugdangers/MothersAct.html
See Dr. Tracy’s commentary on the drugawareness.org website here.
Antidepressants in pregnancy up heart defect riskFri Sep 25, 2009 9:58am EDT
By Anthony J. Brown, MD
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – If you take antidepressants such as fluoxetine (marketed as Prozac) early in your pregnancy, you may be doubling the risk that your newborn will be born with a heart defect, according to a new study.
However, the vast majority of children born to women who take such antidepressants – known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – do not have such defects, the researchers are quick to note.
Earlier studies have tied SSRIs during pregnancy to heart defects, but also to even more serious birth defects. According to the new study of nearly half a million children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2003, however, only heart defects are likely to be associated with the antidepressants, note co-author Dr. Lars Henning Pedersen, from Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues.
Along with fluoxetine, sertraline (marketed as Zoloft) and citalopram (marketed as Celexa) seemed to increase the risk more than others, as did using more than one antidepressant at a time, according to the report in the September 25th Online First issue of BMJ.
Overall, SSRI use in early pregnancy, defined as 28 days before to 112 days after conception, doubled the risk of a particular kind of heart defect involving a piece of tissue that separates parts of the heart.
Sertraline more than tripled the risk, while citalopram more than doubled it. Using more than one SSRI nearly quintupled the risk of the heart defect.
However, the number of children born with such defects was still quite small: For about every 250 pregnant women who did not take SSRIs, one infant was born with the defect, while about two were born with the defect for every 250 women who took one SSRI, and four for every 200 mothers who took more than one.
Pedersen told Reuters Health that the results surprised the team.
Still, in an accompanying editorial, Dr. Christina Chambers, from the University of California, San Diego, comments that doctors and patients “need to balance the small risks associated with SSRIs against those associated with undertreatment or no treatment.”
SOURCE: BMJ, online September 25, 2009.