Infant heart defect risks increase with SSRIs

Pregnant women who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be putting their babies at risk for heart defects. SSRIs, which are normally used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression, have also been linked to heart defects in infants. The risk appears greatest when pregnant women take the drugs in the later part of their pregnancies.

Studies have shown that several commonly prescribed SSRIs – including Zoloft, Depakote, and Paxil – may be putting infants at risk for developing heart defects at the very beginning of their lives. The heart defects that have been tied to those drugs are as follows:

  • Zoloft – transposition of the great arteries, tetralogy of fallot, hypoplastic left and right heart syndrome, atrial septal defect
  • Paxil – atrial and ventricular septal defects (holes in the heart), tetralogy of fallot, double outlet right ventrical, transposition of the great arteries

Many of these conditions require surgery and put infants at risk for further health complications. Women should use caution when taking SSRIs or other medications during pregnancy to protect their children from heart defects and other health problems.

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