A sweeping government study of thousands of women has found connections between the early antidepressant Prozac and Paxil and birth defects, but has cleared other popular treatments in the class which includes Celexa, Lexapro and Pfizer’s Zoloft, which is the subject of a major lawsuit over birth defect claims.
Earlier studies had raised questions about antidepressants in a class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptae Inhibitors or SSRIs, prompting the FDA in 2005 for issuing a safety warning relating to the use of treatments during pregnancy.
In the recent study published on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, researchers at the US. CDC wanted to check if the risk of birth defects had an impact on the entire class of drugs, or only select treatments.
For the study, the researchers asked nearly 28,000 women if they took Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft any time from one month before conception through the third month of pregnancy and analyzed which women bore children with birth defects.
They discovered that famous antidepressants such as Zoloft and Lexapro are not asssociated with birth defects. Only two in the study, Prozac, sold generically as paroxetime and Paxil, sold generically as fluoxetine, were implicated.
Use of Prozac was linked with a birth defect in which the baby’s skull is misshapen. Paxil use was associated with a defect in which a baby’s intestines protrude outside the body and with anencephaly, in which a baby is missing parts of the brain and skull, the study has discovered.