by S. L. Baker, features writer Originally published June 7 2010
(NaturalNews) Back in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that exposure to the antidepressant paroxetine (sold as Paxil, Paxil CR, and Pexeva) in the first trimester of pregnancy might increase the risk for birth defects, especially heart problems. Did this halt the widespread prescribing of paroxetine and other antidepressants for pregnant women? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
In fact, background information in a just published study in CMAJ (the Canadian Medical Association Journal) notes the drugs are frequently used in pregnancy. Almost 4 percent of pregnant women take them at some point during the first trimester -- and the result can be tragic. The new research concludes expectant moms taking antidepressants have an astounding 68 percent increase in the overall risk of miscarriage.
Most previous studies on the use of these medications in pregnancy have been small and haven't looked as miscarriages as a main outcome. But this large study by researchers from the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (CHU Ste-Justine) evaluated the association between antidepressant use in pregnancy in detail -- analyzing classes, types and doses of the drugs and the risk of miscarriage.
In all, the scientists investigated data on 5124 women in Quebec from a large population-based cohort of pregnant women who had miscarried by 20 weeks of gestation. Then they compared their findings to a large sample of women from the same registry who carried their babies full term. Of the women who lost their babies, 284 had taken antidepressants during pregnancy.
All the popular SSRI drugs were linked to miscarriage risk
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), especially paroxetine, were associated with the increased risk of miscarriage. Venlafaxine (sold under the brand names Effexor, Alventa, Argofan, and Trevilor), which is the sixth most commonly prescribed antidepressant in the U.S., belongs to another slightly different class of SSRIs called arylalkanolamine serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and, like paroxetine, it was also especially likely to cause miscarriages. In addition, higher daily doses of antidepressants and a combination of different drugs raised the risk substantially.
"These results, which suggest an overall class effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are highly robust given the large number of users studied," Dr. Anick Berard of the University of Montreal and the Director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine wrote in the article.
Overall, an astounding number of Americans, some 27 million, now take SSRIs. However, as NaturalNews has previously reported, new dangers from these drugs continue to be uncovered. For example, last December Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers announced their findings that taking SSRIs significantly raises the risk of strokes and death in women after menopause (http://www.naturalnews.com/027841_S...).
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