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Side Effects Linked to Antidepressants Such as Effexor: What Can Pregnant Women Do?

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Seattle, WAThe most recent data about Effexor indicates an incrased risk of miscarriage, leaving many pregnant women wondering what they can do to treat their depression.

Effexor is in a class of drugs known as SNRIs (serotonin-norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors), which are similar to SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) in that both prevent the reuptake of serotonin. SNRIs, however, also prevent the reuptake of norepinephrine.

Despite this difference, many studies done on SSRIs include data from SNRIs, including Effexor.

The most recent studies indicate an increased risk of miscarriage when women take certain antidepressants, including Effexor and Paxil, early in pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage in the general population is approximately 20 percent, and the risk of miscarriage in women who took antidepressants was found to be around 34 percent.

Women who took Effexor doubled their risk of miscarriage in comparison with women who did not take an antidepressant.

Certain antidepressants, including SSRIs, have been linked to an increased risk of congenital heart defects when babies are exposed to the antidepressant prior to birth. Some studies have noted that the risk of birth defects is 40 percent higher when women take antidepressants in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as opposed to women who do not take antidepressants during the same period of pregnancy.

Furthermore, a study in the March 2010 issue of Pediatrics suggested a link between the use of SSRIs and developmental delays. Researchers found that babies exposed to antidepressants in the womb were more likely to experience delays in sitting up without support, walking and occupying themselves than children not exposed to antidepressants.

However, there are also risks for pregnant women with untreated depression, which must be taken into consideration when determining whether to discontinue medication. Women who take antidepressants and are pregnant should discuss their options with their doctor.


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