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Studies Suggest Lexapro Heart Birth Defects, High Blood Pressure in Mothers

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Washington, DCPrevious studies have suggested evidence for Lexapro heart birth defects, but now new research has shown that similar antidepressants can raise blood pressure for women who take the pills during pregnancy, The New York Times reported.

According to the news outlet, a new study has linked the antidepressants with an increased risk of high blood pressure for expectant mothers.

The research was published in The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, and the study consisted of data from more than 13,000 pregnant women, 1,200 of whom had pregnancy-induced hypertension with no history of the condition before they became pregnant.

The Times reported that antidepressants are one of the most commonly used medications in pregnancy, and hypertension can cause problems for both mother and child. About one in five women suffer from depression during pregnancy, and up to 14 percent of those women end up using an antidepressant medication to treat it.

Researchers found that women taking antidepressants of any kind had a 53 percent higher risk of having increased blood pressure. Those who were taking medications that were classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI's, saw their risk rise further, by 81 percent.

Although the risk of taking SSRIs was significantly higher, the absolute danger of taking the drugs remained relatively low.

According to the Times, taking antidepressants of any kind raised an expectant mother's absolute risk of hypertension from 2 percent to roughly 3.1 percent. Using SSRI's raised the absolute risk from 2 percent to 3.2 percent.

"It's a very tricky situation for physicians and women themselves," Dr. Anick Berard, the lead author of the study, told the news outlet. "But if there's more benefit, then I would suggest take the medication, monitor the pregnancy and make sure that everything goes accordingly."

Delaware Online reported that the news of the study came as generic forms of antidepressants like Lexapro were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and IVAX Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval to market generic escitalopram tablets in 5, 10, and 20 milligram strengths.

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