"I didn't know that I was pregnant for the first 10 weeks," says Oaks (not her real name pending a lawsuit). Her doctor then switched to Zoloft thinking it was safer but it is an SSRI nonetheless. The first ultrasound results were the beginning of a seven month nightmare for Oaks and her husband. "It detected fluid behind his neck that was too thick and up into his head which meant he was most likely retarded and I could miscarry. 'Nothing ever comes out well with this problem,' my doctor told me and my husband."
Tyler was born April 15th, 2006 with Pena-Shokier syndrome - an early lethal disorder involving multiple birth defects including pulmonary hypoplasia - only five percent of his lung was developed. And he had congenital heart failure.
"When Tyler was born we were prepared for the fact that he wasn't going to live - although his little heart beat for 45 minutes, he only took one complete breath. Once they cut the umbilical cord, his heart was checked and he also had a hole in his heart; this all came out in the autopsy. All of these problems were no surprise but it was still devastating.
My doctor said there was nothing I had done that caused Tyler's death but I do a lot of research on the Internet. I read an article about Pena-Shokier and there isn't enough research on this syndrome so it may have been the medication I was on that contributed to Tyler's birth defects. Even though I was only off Effexor for a short time, my doctor prescribed Zoloft, another SSRI, for the duration of my pregnancy. When my doctor prescribed Zoloft, she mentioned that babies are sometimes irritable and cry more but that was all she said - no mention of birth defects.
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I think that people need to be more aware that there could be disabilities or even a death of a child due to SSRIs. Any kind of drug that hasn't had enough testing shouldn't be on the market.
Of course these drugs won't be tested on pregnant women so they probably shouldn't take anything at all. I know it is hard to go off antidepressants and for many women, pregnancy could be their worst time to try and quit. I know it is easy to say but there are alternatives out there. SSRIs are proving to be more dangerous than cocaine or even heroin. Even though women addicted to these drugs can have babies that go though withdrawals their babies are alive. My baby died - SSRIs are just as dangerous as a narcotic or street drug.