Paxil and Birth Defects

That many over-the-counter and prescription drugs may have an adverse effect on a developing child in utero is an established fact. Some possible effects are minor, while others could be catastrophic to the extent that they may produce birth defects which are found to be clinically incompatible with life.

While there is never a guarantee that a certain drug will cause a certain birth defect, the fact that some substances increase an expectant mothers risk of carrying an adversely affected child has given pause to the willingness of women to take any kind of medication during the nine months of pregnancy.

Constraints on Paxil Choices

Yet in some cases a mom-to-be may not have the luxury of discontinuing her use of the medication. This is the case for women who suffer from diabetes or who control epileptic seizures with the help of prescription drugs, and it also applies to those who need to maintain an emotional and mental balance with the help of psychotropic substances.

While the latter offer a number of choices, Paxil has become known over the years as a substance that is easily tolerated, works effectively in relatively low doses, and has shown fewer side effects than a host of other antidepressants. This had led to many a woman now taking Paxil to combat their depression as well as other kinds of mental ailments.

Heart Abnormalities

Thus it is not surprising that the medical community at large was stunned in 2005 to hear that a connection had been proven to exist between Paxil and fetal abnormalities. Specifically, an unborn childs heart is adversely affected when the expectant mother ingests Paxil during the first three months of the pregnancy. (FDA Advisory)

While the fetal heart problems observed did not fall into the category that would earn them the clinical label of being incompatible with life, they have in some cases required corrective surgery to assure the childs ability to experience a normal life expectancy.

The majority of the reported heart defects were ventricular or atrial septal defects, (holes in the walls between chambers of the heart), which occasionally can necessitate surgery, and may sometimes resolve on their own.

The developing childs heart walls were shown to contain a number of perforations which made the chambers of the heart leaky and thus caused a number of problems after birth. While some of these heart abnormalities were very minor, others were grave.

Speak to Your Doctor

It is important to realize that taking Paxil during the early trimester of pregnancy doubled a womans chances of giving birth to a child with a heart defect, when compared to the possibility of this birth defects occurring in the population of women who specifically did not take Paxil.

Pregnant women, or those who are considering becoming pregnant, are urged to discuss other options for treatment of their mental condition, preferably with a substance that is not shown to have a direct link to the potential development of a birth defect; yet in spite of this discouraging finding, please keep in mind that the ingestion of Paxil only raises the risk of a heart defect developing in the fetus, it does not guarantee it and therefore it is imperative that you do not stop taking the drug cold turkey without speaking to your doctor first!