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Newborn Seizures, Early Birth Tied to SSRI Antidepressants

Filed June 3rd, 2012 Laurie

A large U.S. study warns that when expectant mothers use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, their babies may be more likely to be born early or experience a seizure after birth, adding even more evidence linking antidepressants to pregnancy risks, which also include preterm birth and smaller birth size.

Although researchers can’t be certain that antidepressants are to blame for such complications, they recommend that women stop taking the drugs when they discover they are pregnant.

In the new study, researchers found that out of almost 229,000 infants born to Tennessee mothers, those whose mothers used antidepressants tended to be born earlier. Mothers who filled two or three antidepressant prescriptions during their second trimester gave birth four or five days earlier than other moms, on average.

Newborns were more likely to have a seizure if their mother used SSRI during the last trimester of pregnancy. Fortunately, the seizures seem to cause no long-term damage.

SSRIs include the popular drugs Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Paxil.

Dr. Richard C Shelton. a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said that depression itself is a pregnancy risk. Women who suffer from severe depression and their babies may be better off staying on the medications in those situations.

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