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title pic Antidepressants and the Risk of Omphalocele

Posted by Fiona Cole on April 20, 2011

Antidepressants and the Risk of Omphalocele

One of the less common birth defects which has been associated with antidepressant medication such as Zoloft and Celexa is a condition known as omphalocele. Omphalocele is a defect of the abdominal wall of the fetus. While the baby is developing, the abdominal wall muscles do not form properly, leaving an opening. This in turn leads to certain organs (intestine, stomach, liver) protruding through the umbilical cord. The organs then develop outside of the baby’s body.

The size of the omphalocele can vary from a mild herniation of the umbilical cord to a very large protrusion. Surgery is usually required to return the protruding organs to the abdominal cavity and to close up the abdomen. Tests during pregnancy can determine the severity of the condition and an appropriate plan of action can be implemented by your obstetrician for the baby’s delivery. A baby suffering from an omphalocele should be delivered at a facility where experienced pediatric surgeons and an intensive care nursery are present.

Fortunately, when no other birth defects are present, newborn babies with small to medium omphaloceles have a very high success rate in surgery, and this surgery can be performed soon after birth. More serious cases may require a series of surgeries over time in order to re-position the abdominal organs and close the wall. Often, women carrying babies with larger omphaloceles are advised to undergo a Cesarean section, in order to reduce the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. The good news is that only a small minority of babies born with this defect will suffer from long-term problems, such as feeding and breathing complications.

Research has shown that pregnant women taking SSRI antidepressant drugs are 2.8 times more likely to give birth to a baby with an omphalocele than women who are not taking this type of medication. If you are considering taking antidepressants while pregnant, be sure to discuss all of the risks and benefits with your doctor.

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