A study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine found that infants with mothers who took prescription antidepressants like Celexa after the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to be born with PPHN than infants with mothers who did not take such antidepressants - the incidence of PPHN rose as high as 12 per 1,000 births.
SSRIs including Celexa (known generically as citalopram) may cause the pressure in the blood vessels leading to the lungs to increase to the point where the baby's blood continues to bypass the lungs after birth, resulting in PPHN.
Furthermore, a study published in Pediatrics (February, 2004) found that pregnant women who used SSRIs had a risk of giving birth to babies with disrupted neurological development, abnormal heart rhythms, unusual sleeping patterns, and problems with alertness.
Another study summarized on Web MD reports that newborns who were exposed to antidepressants late in pregnancy are twice as likely to risk admission to special-care nurseries and twice as likely to suffer respiratory complications, some serious enough to require ventilation.
In addition to PPHN, Celexa has also been linked to Shone's Complex, a form of heart disease that prevents the flow of blood from the left side of the heart to the body. In one lawsuit against the drug maker Forest Labs, the plaintiff says that her son was born with Shone's Complex after she was prescribed Celexa during the first trimester of her pregnancy. In order to treat Shone's Complex, the boy will have to have surgery when he is three years old and when he is a teenager, in addition to the surgeries he has already had before his first birthday.
Currently Forest Laboratories are facing civil lawsuits and government investigations regarding its marketing of the antidepressant. Lawsuits against Forest Labs allege that the company knew about the safety risks associated with taking Celexa while pregnant but failed to properly notify the public about those dangers.
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Forest Labs aren't suffering financially from negative press or lawsuits - yet. The company (NYSE: FRX) reported Q3 2007 reported on January 16, 2007 that sales in the quarter included $7,928,000 of Celexa(R) (citalopram HBr).
The Food and Drug Administration has classified Celexa as pregnancy category C, which means that it can be harmful to an unborn baby. Celexa can also pass through breast milk and harm nursing babies. Make sure you notify your doctor if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant and are taking Celexa. The long-term effects of exposure to Celexa are still not known.