Lexapro has a dramatic effect on new borns of unknowing mothers

August 2nd, 2011

San Diego, CA: For pregnant women, a main concern is taking precautions to ensure their babies have as little risk as possible of having newborn birth defects. For mothers taking antidepressants, however, the risk of birth defects may seem unclear. Studies have linked antidepressants such as Lexapro to birth defects, and such Lexapro side effects in children could possibly be serious. A recent study has even suggested that Lexapro birth defects could include a risk of autism.

The study, which is published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry (07/04/11) involved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressant that includes Lexapro. According to researchers, children who were exposed to SSRI medications prior to birth were at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers found that when women used an SSRI in the 12 months prior to giving birth, the infant was twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. When the mother took the SSRI during the first trimester of pregnancy, the infant was four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

These findings led researchers to conclude, “Although the number of children exposed prenatally to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in this population was low, results suggest that exposure, especially during the first trimester, may modestly increase the risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder].” They went on to note that the potential risks of using an SSRI while pregnant must be balanced against the risks of having untreated depression.

A similar result was not found with other types of antidepressants, although very few women in the study used antidepressants that were not SSRIs. Among the SSRIs noted in the study were Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.

The study does not prove that use of SSRI medications while pregnant causes autism, just that there is an association between the two. Having untreated depression while pregnant can also have health consequences for the expectant mother and her newborn.

In addition to autism, previous studies have suggested a link between the use of SSRIs, such as Lexapro, while pregnant and a risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and a link between SSRIs and craniosynostosis.

[Posted by Trent Garmon, authored by: Heidi Turner, Lawyers & Settlements]

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