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ACOG Advises Against Use of Paxil During Pregnancy

Committee also urges caution in using other SSRIs

FRIDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Usage of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) Paxil should be avoided in women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy because of such risks as fetal heart defects and newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension, according to an opinion issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice. In addition, usage of other SSRIs in such women should be individualized according to the respective risks and benefits. The opinion is published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Although many studies have found that SSRI usage during pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of major birth defects, some reports have found that SSRI usage late in pregnancy is associated with short-term complications in newborns such as jitteriness, mild respiratory distress, excessively rapid respiration, weak cry, poor muscle tone and admission to a neonatal intensive care unit. Other unpublished data has found that Paxil usage during the first trimester may increase the risk of congenital heart malformations.

In late 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory about Paxil usage during pregnancy and the manufacturer changed its pregnancy category from C (shown to harm animal fetuses but not adequately studied in humans) to D (shown to harm human fetuses).

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