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Treating depression during pregnancy enhances the risk of newborn birth defects

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Philadelphia, PAPregnant women face any number of complex problems on a daily basis, so it is not surprising that they often experience deep depression. Yet research on the most common form of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including popular depression medication Lexapro, has linked the drugs to newborn birth defects.

Doctors in the U.S. commonly prescribe antidepressant medications to pregnant women dealing with high stress; New Scientist cites that 13 percent of pregnant woman took some form of antidepressant in 2003.

This concern is compounded by a recent study published in InterScience which suggests that pregnant women who do not treat their depression may suffer from stunted social development.

SSRI medication has been linked to onset Pulmonary Hypertension in the Newborn (PPHN) if taken by expectant mothers during the second half of their pregnancy. PPHN is a degenerative disorder which restricts the arteries and lungs of the child, lessening the flow of oxygen to the bloodstream and - by extension - the baby's organs.

SSRIs like Lexapro were flagged by the FDA as a noted health risk in 2006.

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