SSRI use in pregnancy linked to slow fetal head growth, preterm birth

Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants during pregnancy may cause delayed head growth and increase the risk for preterm birth, a new study concludes. Untreated maternal depression was associated with slower rates of fetal body growth.

In a population-based study of pregnant women, researchers followed 7,696 participants from fetal life onward. The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of maternal SSRI use during pregnancy on fetal growth and birth outcomes. Women who were depressed and treated with SSRI antidepressants were found to have a significantly increased risk of having fetuses with delayed head growth and also were twice as likely to have premature births.

The study, “Maternal Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Fetal Growth, and Risk of Adverse Birth Outcomes,” was published by the General Archives of Psychiatry on March 5, 2012.

In an interview about the study with Medscape Medical News, researcher Henning Tiemeier, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatric epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, emphasized the importance that doctors “discuss and consider very carefully treatment alternatives to SSRIs with women who want to become pregnant.”

Other study data suggest use of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy are linked to preterm birth side effects. Kimberly A. Yonkers, MD, professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics/Gynecology/Reproductive Sciences, and Epidemiology/Public Health at Yale School of Medicine is not surprised by the findings. “I think the study is pretty consistent with what the rest of the literature has shown,” she told Medscape Medical News.

SSRI antidepressant medications include Zoloft (setraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (flouxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), and Luvox (fluvoxamine).

If you or a loved one took Zoloft or other SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy and your baby was born with a birth defect, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You may have a claim against the drug company to recover personal injury or wrongful death damages.

Time limits apply. You should speak with a lawyer right away to learn about you legal rights. Our experienced SSRI antidepressant lawsuit attorneys are here to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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