The decision to continue taking antidepressants while pregnant is an agonizing one, considering the evidence that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Paxil have been proven to cause severe birth defects. It has also been determined that antidepressants can also cause withdrawal in newborns.
Research Shows One in Three Infants Can be Affected
A study conducted in Israel in 2006 showed that one out of three newborn infants who were exposed to antidepressants in the womb could experience symptoms of withdrawal. The symptoms include high-pitched crying, tremors and disturbed sleep. The study looked at 60 newborns whose mothers took an SSRI like Paxil throughout their pregnancy, up until the time they delivered. These infants were assessed for withdrawal symptoms during the first two hours following birth and then again at regular intervals if they exhibited symptoms. A second group of 60 infants who were not exposed to antidepressants were also monitored.
The study found that 18 of the 60 babies exposed to antidepressants exhibited symptoms that included tremors, gastrointestinal problems, muscle tensing, high-pitched crying and sleep disturbances. 8 babies were considered to have severe cases of withdrawal. The 60 babies whose mothers did not take antidepressants exhibited no symptoms.
The researchers concluded that all babies born to mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy should be monitored for 48 hours following their birth for withdrawal symptoms. It is thought that the symptoms will resolve themselves during this period.
Moms-to-Be Need To Weigh the Risks and Benefits
A few short months before the Israeli study was published, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increased its warning labeling of SSRIs to include that they posed a risk of birth defects in children born to mothers who took them during the first trimester of pregnancy. Even with this warning, pregnant women who are prone to depression need to confer with their physicians about whether it is worth the risk to take antidepressants while pregnant. Further studies have shown that two-thirds of women with a history of major depression relapsed into serious depression if they discontinued their medication while pregnant. Only one in four experienced a relapse if they continued taking their prescribed medication. These studies have proven that pregnancy will not clear up symptoms of depression, and in some cases it will even cause them to worsen.
What to Do if the Worst Happens
If you or your child suffered an injury from your medication, the Rottenstein Law Group can help. Our Paxil lawyers have over 25 years of experience advocating for victims in consumer product injury cases, helping obtain compensation for pain and suffering and unforeseen medical costs. If you think you have a Paxil birth defect lawsuit please fill out our simple contact form and one of our lawyers will be in touch.