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Zoloft and Other SSRIs Linked to Brain Bleeds

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New York, NYIn addition to the risk of Zoloft birth defects, Zoloft side effects may include an increased risk of brain bleeds, according to a recent study. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, a class of antidepressant that includes Zoloft) have already been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. Infants exposed to Zoloft prior to birth could be at risk of Zoloft heart defects and other health problems.

The most recent study was published in the journal Neurology and suggests that use of SSRIs is associated with an increased risk of brain hemorrhage (brain bleeding). Although the overall risk is still low, it does appear to be raised when patients take one of the drugs in the SSRI class. This is a side effect that directly affects the patient taking the medication and not an infant exposed to the medication prior to birth.

Researchers found that use of an SSRI was associated with a 40 to 50 percent increased risk of brain bleed. This does not prove that SSRIs cause brain bleeds, simply that their use is associated with an increased risk. The conditions that SSRIs are prescribed to treat could be the cause of the increase incidences of brain bleeds.

Meanwhile, a study from the University of British Columbia suggests that babies exposed to SSRIs, including Zoloft, prior to birth, develop language early. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (10/8/12) and found babies exposed to SSRIs speak three months earlier than babies not exposed to the antidepressants.

Use of SSRIs while pregnant has been linked to a variety of birth defects, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), cleft palate, craniosynostosis, neural tube defects and omphalocele, although studies have conflicted on exactly what the link between SSRIs and birth defects is or how significant it is. There is also a risk to a mother having untreated depression while pregnant. Untreated depression while pregnant has been linked to preterm birth, cognitive problems and low birth weight.

Lawsuits have been filed against some SSRI makers, alleging the antidepressants were responsible for birth defects and further alleging the drug makers failed to adequately warn patients and medical professionals about those risks. In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, reportedly settled some 800 Paxil birth defects lawsuits for around $1 billion.

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READER COMMENTS

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I was prescribed Prozac (an SSRI) for nearly two decades. I became disabled in 2005 with severe osteoarthritis and in 2008 got on SSDI. I have severe disc degeneration, pinched nerves at L4 & L5, just had a left hip replacement, have osteoarthritis in most joints and have further surgeries scheduled for my left thumb joint and possibly the back. Medicare is covering my medical care now. I am now 58 years old. Studies show Prozac causes more severe bone and cartilage loss than any other known substance or medicince and should not have been prescribed to a patient with known spondylolithesis. My PCP had to authorize my chiropractic visits for insurance and received reports stating my condition. These were filed and never read. She did not monitor the amount of Prozac that my body was accumulating as standard care mandates. She claimed my only problem was high anxiety. Turns out I had total colonic inertia or Hirschsprung's disease and an internal rectal intussusception that blocked proper elimination. Medicare paid for these surgeries too.

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