By David Gutierrez
February 19, 2010
Women who take certain antidepressant drugs while pregnant may double their child’s risk of being born with a certain variety of heart defect, according to a study conducted by researchers from Aarhaus University in Denmark and published in the medical journal BMJ.
“Anyone who is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant and has any concerns about the treatment for depression should speak to their doctor,” said Cathy Ross of the British Heart Foundation.
Researchers compared the risk of birth defects in 1,370 children born to women who took at least one selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) while pregnant with the risk in 400,000 other children whose mothers had not taken any SSRIs while pregnant. They found that the drugs fluoxetine (marketed as Prozac), sertraline (marketed as Zoloft) and citalopram (marketed as Celexa) all significantly increased the risk that a child would be born with a defect in the septum, which separates the right and left halves of the heart.
Septum defects include a variety of conditions from minor blood vessel problems to outright holes in the heart. The researchers found that one extra septum defect would develop for every 246 pregnant women taking an SSRI during the time period from 28 days before through 112 days after conception.
Taking more than one SSRI drastically increased the risk of septum defects. While the risk of the defects was 0.5 percent in mothers not taking the drugs and 0.9 percent in those taking one drug (an 80 percent increase), it was 2.1 percent in mothers taking two or more (a more than 300 percent increase).
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