The lawsuit was filed by four women who alleged that their infants were affected by exposure to Paxil prior to birth. According to the lawsuit, each of the women had children born with heart problems after being exposed to Paxil. The children now range in age from three to six, according to ValleyCentral (3/15/12). A lawyer for the women says that studies have shown that antidepressants are linked to the development of birth defects.
Previous studies have linked the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to the development of birth defects such as primary pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. Despite that evidence, in December 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an announcement that any link between SSRI medications and birth defects was premature. Researchers found that the risk of having an infant with primary pulmonary hypertension doubled when SSRIs were used during pregnancy, with the most pronounced increase found when SSRIs were used early in pregnancy.
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Meanwhile, a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (3/5/12) found that infants who were exposed to SSRI medications were more likely to be born early and have reduced head size. Researchers further found that women who took an SSRI during pregnancy were twice as likely to deliver a preterm baby. The study did not examine what impact the preterm birth or the reduced head size had on the infant in the long term.
Researchers concluded, "Pregnant mothers treated with SSRIs had fewer depressive symptoms [than those who were not treated] and their fetuses had no delay in body growth but had delayed head growth and were at increased risk for preterm birth."