"When I was prescribed Celexa I had two children and I wasn't coping very well," said Diane Johnson (not her real name pending a lawsuit). "At that time I didn't want any more kids but my husband wanted more. Eventually, I felt better and got pregnant in August. I attempted to wean myself off Celexa but after three days without anything my coping skills were lost so I went back on it.
At the same time I had come down with pneumonia and wound up in the hospital. I had a pregnancy test and I asked my doctor if I should stay on Celexa. She didn't advise me one way or the other. She told me to speak to 'MotherRisk' - an organization that advises women during pregnancy what is safe or not. A doctor called me back and asked me about the meds. Her advice was that a drug-free pregnancy is ideal, and weighing out the risks to the fetus and my coping situation - Celexa was a new drug in the SSRIs and most of the tweaks had been worked out. It had risks but there was a lesser chance - PPHN was very rare and a most likely risk would be withdrawal after birth. She didn't mention any structural defects like club foot.
At my twenty week ultrasound my doctor confirmed that my child had a club foot. I am into my 27th week. I went back to my doctor and her concern now is my likelihood of post-partum depression after my baby is born.
When I spoke to MotherRisk they told me that a report came out in January 2006 a study on Celexa - after my ultrasound I said to my OB/Gyn (after checking the Internet about clubfoot and Celexa) he said it didn't cause clubfoot.
I said, if I continue taking Celexa in the last trimester, based on what I read, it could increase the chances of PPHN. He was unaware of this but took out his blackberry, and brought up the drug. 'Right,' he said, and told me to stop taking it - cold turkey.
I was surprised that he had to take out his blackberry to check this drug and I am also surprised that I knew more about the risks of SSRIs than he did - the information is readily available - it takes a few seconds to find the correlation between SSRIs and birth defects.
How many women are on SSRIs and pregnant? My girlfriend was on Zoloft throughout her entire pregnancy - nobody ever told her to stop taking it and she is now breastfeeding.
Her baby was born premature and she is not sure of any future risks.
Why aren't the drug companies informing doctors, especially OB/Gyn's of the risks involved with SSRIs?
He told me to see my GPp for an alternative medication. What about the baby, will it be affected if I quit cold turkey? No, the baby will be fine, I will suffer. 'No, my husband and my kids will suffer,' I replied. It wasn't a happy home - even though we are a happy family. I just have to get through this pregnancy and deal with post-partum after that.
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I have never had thoughts of harming my children but others have. Now that I am pregnant, I have natural hormones that are helping me cope so my need for SSRIs is not as great, but I did have an episode this morning...
I will have another ultrasound at 32 weeks and I will be asking the doctor to specifically look at the lungs and heart for any defects. Even at my first ultrasound, at eight weeks, my OB/Gyn knew I was taking Celexa.
To find out how she is doing, we will interview Dianne again (and post a link from this site) after her 32nd week ultrasound. In the meantime, best wishes for Mom and baby ...