By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1
Recent research from Spain indicates that the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by pregnant women is connected to withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies.
Dr. Emilio J. Sanz and fellow researchers at the University of La Laguna in Spain, together with collaborating researchers from the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring in Sweden, recently published their findings on expecting mothers’ use of SSRIs, a range of drugs popular for treating depression, anxiety, and other psychological or mood disorders.
Since it is known that sudden breaks in SSRI drug regimens can lead to withdrawal symptoms, some of which may be severe, Sanz and his team examined the WHO’s medical database of adverse drug reactions, hoping to discover whether SSRI use in pregnant women might be connected to neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
The research team noted that, “an association between paroxetine [the SSRI marketed under the brand name Paxil] and neonatal convulsions was identified in December, 2001, by the data-mining method routinely used to screen the WHO database of adverse drug reactions.”
Trying to explain the connection between SSRIs and such adverse reactions, the team searched for other cases of suspected SSRI withdrawal in newborns. They found that “a total of 93 cases of suspected SSRI-induced neonatal withdrawal syndrome had been reported” by November 2003, and that these cases were not limited to Paxil or paroxetine alone.
While 64 of the cases were in fact associated with paroxetine, 16 were associated with fluoxetine (the drug in Lilly’s Prozac), nine were associated with sertaline (marketed by Pfizer under the brand name Zoloft), and seven were associated with citalopram (sold as Celexa by Lundbeck).
While more research is called for to help doctors and scientists better understand the connection between SSRI use and neonatal withdrawal, Sanz and his colleagues noted that the findings are certainly cause for concern among pregnant women and their caregivers. “The team concluded that SSRIs, especially paroxetine, should be cautiously managed in the treatment of pregnant women with a psychiatric disorder,” noted the researchers.