Posted by Claudia Grazioso on April 25, 2012
As careful as we are with our kids, it’s easy and natural to get a little complacent sometimes. I’ve certainly had those moments of “Do I really need to reapply the sun block?” and on especially hectic, have-to-get-to-a-meeting mornings I have (kind of) convinced myself that donuts are, in fact, the true Breakfast of Champions. So when I was doing some reading and I saw that another study had come out that linked Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, it didn’t really register with me at first. And then I just had to take a look.
Published in the January 12 issue of the British Medical Journal, the new study found that babies born to mothers who took SSRI drugs late in pregnancy had a two times higher risk of having PPHN. Now, we’ve all heard about this risk before, and specific SSRI drugs have been tested for this condition. But what is interesting about this study, conducted by Dr. Helle Kieler, is that it seemed to link the entire class of SSRI drugs to PPHN. In other words, it didn’t matter if the moms to be were taking fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa) or sertraline (Zoloft): The risk of their baby being born with PPHN was the same.
Though no one knows for sure why SSRIs seem to have this effect, Dr. Kieler offered the possibility that serotonin itself might play a role. “Serotonin can induce vasoconstriction and mediate pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation.”
And PPHN is nothing to take lightly. Yes, medical advancements have significantly reduced the mortality rate of infants born with this condition, but it’s still very serious. Babies who have PPHN basically fail to make the transition to breathing air outside of their mother’s body. As a result, insufficient amounts of oxygen make it into the bloodstream and to the rest of the baby’s body. This can result in, among other things, organ damage, kidney failure and shock. Even with a fast diagnosis, a child might have lasting complications like long-term feeding problems or difficulties hearing.
If you suffer from depression and are pregnant, talk to your doctor about non-pharmaceutical treatments and weigh the risks and benefits of taking an SSRI.