Studies linked Zoloft to birth defects.

Results of several studies which reveals an increased risk in the incidence of serious birth defects on infants, such as brain and spinal cord defects, warn mothers about taking the antidepressant drug Zoloft during their pregnancy. Afterall, no mother would want her child to be born with a missing or misplaced body part or a damaged organ.

Zoloft, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) that increases serotonin levels in the brain, is manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. as a treatment for several disorders. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that taking Zoloft during pregnancy could be fatal to newborns after several studies linked the antidepressant drug to various birth defects including a serious and potentially deadly effect on the infants’ heart.

Women who take Zoloft or other antidepressant drug after 20 weeks of pregnancy are six times more likely to give birth to an infant who have acquired persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a serious and potentially fatal circulatory condition according to a 2006 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). This claim is further supported by another study in 2007 published also in the The New England Journal medicine (NEJM) that mothers who take Zoloft or similar antidepressant drugs during their pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to an infant with heart defects most common of which are ventricular outflow defects and septal defects.

Aside from a seriously defective heart, researchers also claimed that children born to mothers who was treated by Zoloft during their pregnancy are twice as likely to suffer from craniosynostosis, a condition wherein there is a problem with the growth of the brain and skull; and six times more likely to suffer from omphalocele—imagine a baby whose parts of its intestines are found outside the abdominal wall. Another study claimed more birth defects such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), Tetralogy of Fallot, cardiomyopathy, anencephaly, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), tricuspid stenosis, cleft mitral valve or bicuspid aortic valve.

The FDA had reported on the study of infants with PPHN, however, it did not require warnings about birth defects on any antidepressant except Paxil. However, in response to studies which linked Zoloft to various birth defects on infants, the FDA issued a number of alerts and warnings over the past few years in the hopes that mothers may think twice about continuing the medication during their pregnancy.

However, because pregnant women are liable to suffer from withdrawal symptoms after giving birth, they are advised to consult their doctors before deciding to no longer take Zoloft.

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