Posted by The Vigilant Mom on November 18, 2011
I recently heard about a drug that helps with anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and premenstrual dsyphoric disorder — in other words, problems that many women face. In fact, they are problems that many of my friends face. It’s marketed under the name Sarafem, but the generic name is fluoxetine. Fluoxetine sounded really familiar to me. Really, really familiar. And then I realized that fluoxetine is also the generic name for the commonly-prescribed antidepressant Prozac.
So Sarafem is just another Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) — and if you are pregnant, yes, you should beware. Like other SSRI drugs, Sarafem has been given a Category C rating by the Food and Drug Administration. That means that while no controlled studies have been performed on humans, results from studies performed on pregnant animals are cause for concern. In the studies performed, lab animals born to mothers who had been exposed to Sarafem often weighed less and had a lower survival rate. In people, there have been reports of infants whose mothers have taken SSRIs like Sarafem being born with withdrawal symptoms ranging from irritability to feeding and breathing difficulties, as well as having more serious respiratory problems like Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. In fact, some studies estimate that babies who were exposed in utero to Sarafem after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to be born with PPHN.
As PPHN can be quite serious, that is really something you might want to take into consideration if you’re pregnant and on Sarafem. Additionally, doctors have noted that Sarafem does pass into breast milk, and are concerned about the possibility of side effects on nursing infants.
Obviously, if you are pregnant, you will not be taking a drug that is prescribed for premenstrual symptoms. But if you suffer from an eating disorder, anxiety, panic attacks or OCD and are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about alternatives to Sarafem in particular and SSRIs in general.