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Certain Antidepressants May Raise Lung Condition Risk in Newborns

Risk for Rare Disorder Higher in Babies Born to SSRI Antidepressant Users

Questions Remain About SSRI, PPHN Link continued...

Gideon Koren, MD, of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, says the study raises more questions than it answers.

“This is by far the largest study to examine SSRI use and PPHN, but the fact that women with untreated depression had a higher risk for the disorder raises new doubts about this link,” Koren says. “Many doubts remain, and they should be shared with patients.”

Koren directs the Toronto hospital’s “Motherisk” program, which advises women about drug safety during pregnancy.

“We talk to about 200 women a day from all over North America and other parts of the world,” he says, adding that questions about SSRI safety are common.

“Many women need to be on antidepressants during pregnancy for their well-being and their baby’s, and this is not a reason to withhold treatment to a woman who needs it,” he adds.

Clinical psychiatrist Alan Manevitz, MD, of New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, agrees that untreated depression can be very dangerous for expectant mothers and their babies, but he adds that nondrug treatments may also be an option for many women with depression.

“Depression should not be taken lightly, and women who are pregnant should never stop taking antidepressants without talking to their doctors,” he says. “But there are alternatives to drugs that work well in many patients.”

Last month, the FDA sent a letter to health care professionals warning about a possible risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns born to women who take SSRIs during pregnancy.

The advisory noted that “there have been conflicting findings from new studies evaluating this potential risk, making it unclear whether use of SSRIs during pregnancy can cause PPHN.”

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