Posted by Claudia Grazioso on June 6, 2011
Wellbutrin, also known as Bupropion, is often prescribed to treat depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and some anxiety disorders like social phobias. It has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of ADHD and hyperactivity in adults. Occasionally it’s prescribed under the name Zyban as pharmaceutical aid to help people quit smoking. In general, it is believed to be safe to take during pregnancy. In fact, some doctors even feel that it should be used as an alternative to other anti-depressants during pregnancy.
So does that mean it’s super safe and there is nothing to worry about? Wouldn’t it be great if life were that easy? Imagine, a pill that has been so extensively studied and tested before it hits the market that we know is safe to take during pregnancy? Yeah… that was a nice trip to Fantasyland, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, if you are currently pregnant and taking Wellbutrin, there are some things you should consider.
Wellbutrin differs from most Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in that it acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor. But like many SSRI drugs, Wellbutrin is a Category C drug, meaning that it has been tested on animal fetuses but no controlled study has been performed on humans. In the studies it has been subjected to, Wellbutrin was found to have a slim chance of increasing some fetal birth defects. In particular, there appears to be an elevated risk of cardiac birth defects, and in women who took the drug early in their pregnancy, some studies showed their babies to be at almost twice the risk for a particular form of cardiac defect known as a left outflow tract defect. In most cases observed, this took the form of the aorta being significantly narrowed. This affects the flow of blood from the heart’s left chamber to the rest of the body, and surgery is required to correct it.
Other birth defects possibly associated with Wellbutrin are Klinefelter’s Syndrome, in which baby boys end up with an extra X chromosome, which affects the development of the testicles and later in life might impact fertility. There also appears to be a slight increase in the risk of bilateral clubfeet.
Though the instances of birth defects caused by Wellbutrin might seem to be lower than that of other anti-depressant drugs, if you are on Wellbutrin and considering getting pregnant or are pregnant, stay on top of the most recent news. With a lot of drugs, whether they are safe for developing babies is an ever-changing landscape.