More evidence links SSRIs to birth defects

The new evidence does not prove that SSRIs cause birth defects, however.
The new evidence does not prove that SSRIs cause birth defects, however.

HealthDay News — New research provides more evidence of a possible link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant use early in pregnancy and a small increased risk of birth defects. The study appears online July 8 in The BMJ.

Studies in recent years have differed about the risk, if any, to babies born to women who take SSRIs during pregnancy. The new research examined statistics from 17,952 mothers of infants with birth defects and 9,857 other mothers. The children were born between 1997 and 2009. The researchers focused on SSRI use in the first three months of pregnancy.

The researchers found no connection between the SSRIs and nine birth defects that previously had been linked to them. However, they did link a higher risk of five birth defects to paroxetine and two birth defects to fluoxetine. The defects included conditions involving the heart, brain, skull, and abdominal wall. But the added risk was small, the researchers said.

"A woman's chance of having a child with the heart defect we described is about 10 per 10,000. Our results suggest that if she took paroxetine, that risk could increase to 24 per 10,000," study author Jennita Reefhuis, PhD, told HealthDay. Reefhuis is an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reference

  1. Reefhuis J et al. BMJ. 2015; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3190.
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