The truth is that Paxil can cause serious birth defects in infants. Defects that have been reported include minor valve problems, heart murmurs, and holes in the heart. In some cases, infants have had defects so severe they required heart transplants.
Paxil is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is usually prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and other related disorders. However, there are three groups of people who should not take Paxil. Those groups are senior citizens, youth under the age of eighteen, and women who are pregnant or nursing. Recently, information has come to light indicating that GlaxoSmithKine, makers of Paxil, knew about the risks associated with taking their antidepressant.
Studies released over the past few years have shown links between the use of Paxil by pregnant women and a risk of birth defects. The studies led to the FDA releasing a public health advisory in 2005 that the use of Paxil (known generically as paroxetine) during the first trimester of pregnancy could increase the risk of congenital malformations. According to the FDA, "...these types of defects range in severity from those that are minor and may resolve without treatment to those that cause serious symptoms and may need to be repaired surgically."
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The FDA has upgraded the Paxil warning from category "C" to category "D." Category "D" drugs have been shown to have a risk to fetuses.
Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should speak with their doctor about the possibility of taking non-SSRI antidepressants. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is advising that "...a particular SSRI medication known as paroxetine (Paxil) be avoided, when possible, by pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant due to the potential risk of fetal heart defects, newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension, and other negative defects."