Studies warn of birth defects related to Zoloft.

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. Mothers would always protect their child even before they are born to an extent of making sure they will not suffer birth defects.

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.

A 2006 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) had stated that mothers who take Zoloft or a similar antidepressant drug after the 20th week of their 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. 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. Not only that, the study also showed that newborns could suffer other horrific birth defects that no mother would ever want their child afflicted with 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 noted the study of PPHN in infants but it only required birth defect warnings from Paxil, another antidepressant drug. 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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