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Antidepressant Paxil Linked to Birth Defects

Posted on in Defective Prescription Drugs

When the antidepressant drug Paxil hit the consumer market in the early 1990s, it was hailed by the medical world as a wonder drug, able to relieve even the most severe cases of mental depression. Like most other antidepressants, Paxil is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). There have been widely-publicized side effects about SSRIs for the patient who takes them. However, not as much has been published about the effects SSRIs can have on babies born to women who are taking them.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the first such warning was in fact issued as early as 2005, when the FDA advised the medical community to discontinue the practice of prescribing Paxil to pregnant women. In 2005, however, the FDA maintained that women who were already on Paxil may face a greater risk to the fetus by discontinuing the medication than by continuing to take it.

This has changed. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the risk of taking SSRIs during pregnancy could be far worse for the fetus than the risk of being depressed. Women, reports the The New York Times, go to great lengths to give their baby the best start to life: they often quit smoking, give up drinking, and decline foods like Brie cheese and swordfish. Yet these same women often do not give up SSRIs, “despite an increasing number of studies linking prenatal exposure to birth defects, complications after birth, and even developmental delays and autism.” A recent study out of John Hopkins University found that young boys with autism were more than 30 percent more likely to have been exposed to SSRIs via their mother during prenatal development.

These and several other studies, such as one large Norwegian study which found 51,000 babies who had experienced SSRIs during pregnancy were associated with less language competence by the time they were three years old, that have many critics contesting the FDA's 2005 advice that it is better for women to stay on medication than be depressed.

If you had a child with birth or developmental defects and were taking Paxil at the time of pregnancy without any warning of the risks, you may be eligible for compensation. Do not go through it alone. Contact an Arlington Heights defective drug attorney today.

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