Zoloft & SSRI’s Linked To Birth Defects. Birth Defects linked to Zoloft, SSRI Antidepressant usage during pregnancy. Women who take SSRI antidepressants may face a greater chance of having a child with a birth defect. In 2005, a Danish study showed that infants exposed to SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy had a 60% higher probability of developing congenital heart defects when compared with infants whose mothers did not take the drugs. In 2006, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) asked the manufacturers of several SSRI antidepressants to add information to their labels describing the potential risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a six-fold increased risk of the disorder among infants born to mothers who took an antidepressant in the later months of pregnancy. Other birth defects that may be linked to SSRI antidepressants include: ventricular outflow defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), neural tube defects such as spina bifida and more listed below.
If you have taken Zoloft, and have given birth to a child with a birth defect the defective drug may be to blame. Below is a list of potential birth defects that may be linked to the use of Zoloft:
- Congenital heart lesions & anomalies
- Down’s syndrome
- Undescended testes in males
- Spina bifida
- Clubfoot (one or both feet turn downward and inward)
- Septal defects; Cleft lip and/or cleft palate
Zoloft Increases Risk of Suicidal Thoughts
The FDA recently completed a bulk evaluation of 372 studies involving approximately 100,000 patients and 11 antidepressants, including Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. When the results are analyzed by age, it becomes clear there is an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior among adults 18 to 25 that approaches that seen in children, the FDA said in documents released before their scheduled December 13, 2006 meeting of its psychopharmacologic drugs advisory committee.
In May 2006, GlaxoSmithKline and the FDA cautioned Paxil may also raise the risk of suicidal behavior in young adults and changed the drug’s label to reflect that risk. The FDA has recently urged the makers of Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants to add a warning about suicidal behavior. The FDA stated that patients using Zoloft and other antidepressants should be watched closely for suicidal tendencies. The FDA advisory panel suggested the new warnings after an emotional hearing with testimony from the parents of children and teenagers who attempted suicide or took their own lives after starting antidepressants. The expanded warnings on antidepressant labels advise health-care providers to “carefully monitor patients receiving antidepressants for possible worsening of depression or suicide ideation, especially at the beginning of therapy or when the dose either decreases or increases.
SSRI Antidepressant linked to Suicide Risk
Zoloft belongs to a newer class of antidepressants called SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. A British study found an increase in suicide attempts among children taking antidepressants versus those taking sugar pills. The U.S. surgeon general estimates there are 30,000 suicides every year in the United States. According to researchers with Columbia University, 10 percent of all youth suffer from depression, and 1,883 children ages 10 to 19 years old killed themselves in 2001.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) Antidepressant Risk in Heart Disease Patients
A study has linked SSRI Antidepressants to an increased risk of death amongst patients with coronary artery disease. This study, conducted at Duke University, analyzed the survival rate of heart disease patients using antidepressants compared with those not using these drugs. During an average of three years of follow-up, 21.4% of the patients taking antidepressants died compared with 12.5% of those not on antidepressants. After adjusting for demographic factors, cardiac risk factors, scores on the Beck Depression Inventory test, and the presence of other illness, antidepressant use was an independent risk factor for mortality, increasing the risk by 62%. Researchers do not fully understand why antidepressants increase the risk of mortality in these patients. However, their findings are statistically significant and show that these drugs do increase the risk of death in heart disease patients. Current and former heart disease patients should weigh the risks and benefits of antidepressants before using these medications.