Popular Antidepressants Linked to Birth Defects: Is Yours on the List?

medicine bottles

For women who take antidepressants, pregnancy can present some tough decisions, since experts have long debated whether these drugs lead to birth defects. Well, finally one study brings some clarity to this question: Turns out certain antidepressants are linked to birth defects while others are not. 


These conclusions were based on health data from more than 38,000 women who gave birth between 1997 and 2009. First, the good news: One of the most common antidepressants, sertraline (Zoloft) -- taken by 40 percent of the sample -- was not linked to birth defects. Citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro) were also in the clear.

Now, the bad news: The antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) were linked to an increased occurrence of birth defects in the heart, abdominal wall, brain, and skull.

Still, though, the risk is still small. For instance, paroxetine increased the risk of brain and skull malformations from 2 to 7 per 10,000 births. That's still pretty tiny. 

More from The Stir: 6 Natural Ways to Treat Depression During Pregnancy

So all in all I'd say this is good news for pregnant women suffering from depression. In the past, they've faced such a terrible choice between their mental health and their baby's development -- and up until now, the data has been so murky, many may have been tempted to refuse ALL antidepressants across the board.

But now, they've got some clarity: They know which antidepressants are safe, and which are not. And even if a woman is on one of the "riskier" drugs like Prozac and doesn't want to switch, the increased risk of defects is fairly slight.

Because let's face it -- depression can be a debilitating. So it's nice to know women can get the relief they need without introducing new worries about their unborn child.

Did you take any medication during your pregnancy?


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