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Antidepressants Can Cause Serious Breathing Problems in Newborns

A study in the February 9, 2006 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that there is a definite association between mothers taking certain antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) late in pregnancy and the risk of their babies being born with a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

PPHN causes breathing and lung dysfunction in newborns right when they enter the world. Babies who are delivered at or close to full term usually recover without any major difficulties, but some babies can suffer breathing complications that can cause a number of health problems. Some babies can even die from PPHN.

In the general population, PPHN occurs, on average, in 1 to 2 newborns out of every 1,000. In babies exposed to antidepressants during the last several weeks of pregnancy, the study found that the rate was six times higher - 6 to 12 newborns out of every 1,000.

Even the FDA has expressed concern over the results of this study, calling it "very worrisome," and stating that it would consider the possibility of making it mandatory for manufacturers of the antidepressants in question to label their drugs with this potential risk.

Previously, the FDA issued a warning about the popular antidepressant, Paxil, stating that it might raise the risk of newborns developing rare heart problems if exposed to the medication in utero.

And it wasn't too long ago when scientists reported that certain antidepressants can have a negative impact on the immune system.

According to the New York Times, "psychiatrists estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of pregnant women suffer bouts of depression, and at least 1 in 10 of those take antidepressants."

The most popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are: Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac.

Clearly, this is not a simple issue. For some pregnant mothers, taking an antidepressant can mean the difference between staying alive and committing suicide.

If you or someone you know is pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant and you are concerned about the risk of developing depression, be sure to read the article referenced above (Common Antidepressants May Affect Immune System) for a list of suggestions on how to address depression through natural means.


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