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Taking Paxil During Pregnancy Causes Heart Defects In Fetuses, Warn Obstetricians, Friday, December 01, 2006 by Jessica Fraser

Pregnant women and those who might become pregnant should avoid taking the antidepressant Paxil because of a high risk of birth defects, according to a committee of obstetricians who published their opinion yesterday in the December issue of the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The Obstetric Practice Committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said pregnant women should not take Paxil — a member of a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) — because two previous studies found that the drug posed up to double the risk of heart defects in fetuses.

Nearly a year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and GlaxoSmithKline — which manufactures Paxil — changed the warnings on the drug to include the results of the studies. The FDA then advised pregnant women to merely switch from Paxil to another SSRI drug, such as Prozac or Zoloft. (Emphasis added.)

The most common defects caused by antidepressants were holes or other malformations in the chambers of the heart. The obstetricians went a step further than the FDA in recommending that women avoid Paxil and reconsider using any SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy. (Emphasis added.)

However, consumer health advocate Mike Adams calls the FDA’s caution last year and the obstetricians’ current opinion “after-the-fact warnings,” since Paxil and other SSRIs are still being prescribed to pregnant women, often without warning of the possible harm to unborn children.

It demonstrates yet again how patients are guinea pigs when it comes to pharmaceutical safety, and how the current drug safety testing system is entirely inadequate, Adams said. Plus, there’s the fact that antidepressant drugs imbalance blood sugar metabolism, worsening gestational diabetes. he said. This fact is almost never explained to expectant mothers who are prescribed such pills. Paxil is currently one of the most popular antidepressants in the world, and roughly 25 percent of its users are women of childbearing age — between 18 and 45.

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