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Pregnant Women Weigh Risks and Benefits of Celexa

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Dallas, TXWhen it comes to weighing the risk of Celexa side effects against the risk of untreated depression during pregnancy, women could be forgiven for finding the information confusing. Although there is reportedly a risk of Celexa birth defects, including a link between Celexa and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn), there are also risks to having untreated depression. The result is that pregnant women may not know what they can, or should, do.

Celexa is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of drugs that includes Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were linked in a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine to PPHN in infants exposed to the medications prior to birth. According to the study, exposure to certain antidepressants during the last three months of pregnancy resulted in up to six times the likelihood of babies being born with PPHN.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a potentially fatal condition in which the baby's organs are deprived of oxygen. Up to 20 percent of babies born with PPHN do not survive their ordeal.

Lawsuits have been filed against the maker of SSRI medication Paxil, alleging Paxil was linked to serious congenital defects in infants exposed to the medication prior to birth. In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, reportedly settled a large number of those lawsuits. Approximately $1 billion was paid to settle around 800 lawsuits alleging Paxil caused birth defect in infants. Furthermore, the family of an infant who died less than 60 days after birth from PPHN reached a confidential settlement in their lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline.

Meanwhile, a study published in the December 2009 issue of American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology suggested that women who began SSRI antidepressant therapy during their second or third trimester of pregnancy are up to five times more likely to experience preterm birth than women who either did not start any SSRI antidepressant therapy or started it during their first trimester.

Preterm birth carries its own risks, such as lower birth weight and respiratory distress.

Women who are pregnant and are currently taking Celexa should not discontinue their medication without first speaking to a doctor. Although there are reportedly risks of taking SSRIs such as Celexa during pregnancy, there are also risks to having untreated depression.

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