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Celexa Linked to Birth Defects Such As PPHN

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Bethesda, MDCelexa, which is used by patients looking to treat depression, is a member of the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that works by increasing a natural brain substance to help maintain balance.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the antidepressant typically comes in the form of a tablet that is generally taken once per day either with or without food.

The medication, which is used to treat a variety of depression-related symptoms, can also help in treating disorders such as panic disorder, social phobia and even alcoholism, according to the NCBI.

While the medication has been shown to be effective in treating these conditions, studies have also found links between Celexa and side effects such as suicidal thoughts, according to the NCBI. During clinical studies in which patients took antidepressants such as Celexa—whose active ingredient is citalopram—a small number of children and young adults up to the age of 24 began experiencing such symptoms, the NCBI said.

In addition to these serious potential side effects, Celexa has also been associated with the rare birth defect persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which is a problem with the lung.

According to the Mayo Clinic, when Celexa is taken during the last half of pregnancy, it has also been linked to septal heart defects and other issues such as anencephaly and craniosynostosis.

Anencephaly is "the absence of a large part of the brain and the skull," while craniosynostosis is a "congenital [present at birth] defect that causes one or more sutures on a baby's head to close earlier than normal," according to the National Library of Medicine.

In addition to the potential for these rare birth defects, Celexa can also cause a number of less serious side effects (many of which are more typical), including nausea, vomiting, nervousness, muscle pain, loss of appetite and stomach pain, according to the NCBI.

Forest Laboratories Inc., which manufactures Celexa, has faced scrutiny over other drugs as well, including hypertension medications such as Benicar and Azor. According to the Dow Jones Newswires, Forest recently received a Justice Department subpoena for documents related to the medications, which could have a negative effect on public perception of the pharmeceutical company.


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