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Doctors Warn of the Risk of Lexapro Birth Defects

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Washington, DCWomen experiencing postpartum and prenatal depression have been known to use popular antidepressants like Lexapro or Zoloft to treat their psychosis. However, a number of doctors have come out against the prescription of these medications for pregnant women due to their increased risk of newborn birth defects.

The medications belong to a subclass of antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which have been linked to a number of troubling side effects for newborn babies ranging from low birth weight and deformities to primary pulmonary hypertension in the newborn.

Though numerous doctors have reached a consensus about the risky nature of these medications, most SSRIs are still listed as Class B drugs, meaning that the medications can still be prescribed for expectant mothers. Many have called on the medical industry to further test whether or not the risk of side effects outweighs the risk of discontinuing the use of the antidepressants.

"The absolute risk of birth defects is small but still exists," writes Katherine Stone, a board member of Postpartum Support International, in an e-mail to the AOL health blog Parent Dish. "It can impact birth weight and preterm delivery, but so can depression and anxiety during pregnancy."

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