The study, published in the British Medical Journal (01/12/12), found that the use of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy was associated with double the risk of having an infant with persistent pulmonary hypertension. Although in the general population, the risk of having an infant with persistent pulmonary hypertension is around 1 in 1,000, the study found that the risk doubled when SSRIs were used during pregnancy, especially when they were used early in pregnancy.
Effexor is not an SSRI antidepressant; it is an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant. SSRI antidepressants affect serotonin levels in the brain, while SNRI medications affect the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine. Although Effexor is likely to have similar side effects to its SSRI counterparts, it is not guaranteed that they would have identical risk profiles.
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In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the use of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy, but later revised that warning. In December 2011, the agency stated that any conclusion about the link between SSRI use during pregnancy and the development of PPHN was "premature."
Even though there are risks to taking an antidepressant while pregnant, there are also potential risks to having untreated depression while pregnant. Those risks include delivering a baby with low birth weight and premature delivery.