According to the results of a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), women who use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Signs and symptoms of SSRI-induced PPHN include fatigue, difficulty breathing, swelling of the hands or feet, and an increase in the pulmonic second heart sound. Antidepressants associated with PPHN include Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Symbyax, Wellbutrin and Celexa.
Free Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has a child who was diagnosed with PPHN after being exposed to an antidepressant medication in the womb, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the antidepressant and we can help.
What’s the problem?
January 13, 2012 - In a comprehensive study of more than 1.6 million live births, SSRI antidepressant exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy was associated with a doubling of the risk of PPHN. This figure increases the absolute risk from 1.2 to 3 cases per 1,000 births in the United States each year.
“It is essential to plan the treatment and to weigh the risks of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn when treating women in late pregnancy with those of relapse of depression and neonatal abstinence syndrome if therapy is interrupted,” said Helle Kieler, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
PPHN occurs when the infant’s pulmonary vascular resistance fails to decrease after being born, and the ductus arteriosus remains open to ensure circulation. Mortality rates for babies born with PPHN range from 5 to 10%. Antidepressants currently linked to PPHN include:
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Effexor (venlafaxine)
To explore the issue of whether SSRI use during late pregnancy is a risk factor for PPHN, Kieler and colleagues conducted research using data from national health registries in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The study included 1,618,255 singletons born after 33 weeks of gestation between 1996 and 2007.
In all, approximately 30,000 expecting mothers used an SSRI during pregnancy, including 17,053 (1.1%) before eight weeks of gestation and 11,014 (0.7%) after 20 weeks. The results indicated that SSRI use late in pregnancy increased the risk of PPHN after all other factors were ruled out.
Ironically, the use of SSRIs during early pregnancy has also been associated with an increased risk for PPHN. This risk has also been reported to be elevated in cases of maternal admission for a psychiatric disorder. According to the researchers, both findings require additional study.
A possible explanation of the relationship between antidepressants and PPHN may involve the accumulation of the drugs in the lungs, combined with the ability of serotonin to cause vasoconstriction and to mediate pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation.
Do You Have a Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in antidepressant lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new PPHN cases in all 50 states.
Free Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has a child who has been diagnosed with PPHN after being exposed to an antidepressant medication in the womb, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a PPHN suit and we can help.