SSRI Antidepressants Appear to Raise Risk of Serious Respiratory Disease in Newborns

Rob Wipond
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A new study in JAMA has reinforced earlier warnings that taking SSRI antidepressants late in pregnancy appears to put mothers at a slightly increased risk of having newborns with persistent pulmonary hypertension. PPHN is a potentially life-threatening condition.

“Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the medical records of nearly 4 million women enrolled in Medicaid — over 128,000 of whom were taking an antidepressant during the 90 days before delivery,” reported Psychiatric News. “Overall, 7,630 infants not exposed to antidepressants were diagnosed with PPHN (20.8 per 10,000 births) compared with 322 infants exposed to SSRIs (31.5 per 10,000 births) and 78 infants exposed to other antidepressants (29.1 per 10,000 births).”

“After adjusting for other potential risk factors, the use of SSRIs resulted in a 28 percent increased risk for PPHN among full-term births,” reported Psychiatric News.

“Evidence from this large study of publicly insured pregnant women may be consistent with a potential increased risk of PPHN associated with maternal use of SSRIs in late pregnancy,” stated the reseachers. They added that “the absolute risk was small.”

According to persistent-pulmonary-hypertension-newborn.com, “Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) occurs when a newborn’s circulation system does not adapt to breathing outside the womb.”

“PPHN is a life-threatening condition,” reported Medical News Today. “It is estimated that around 10-20% of infants born with the condition do not survive, while many of those who do survive suffer severe lifelong illnesses, such as chronic lung disease and neurodevelopmental disorders.”

PPHN was the only risk evaluated in the study; other studies have linked SSRI antidepressants to increases in other types of risks for newborns.

Huybrechts KF, Bateman BT, Palmsten K, et al. Antidepressant Use Late in Pregnancy and Risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. JAMA. 2015;313(21):2142-2151. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.5605. (Abstract)

Study Finds SSRI Use in Late Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Newborn Respiratory Disease (Psychiatric News Alert, June 3, 2015)

Maternal antidepressant use may raise risk of newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension (Medical News Today, June 3, 2015)

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn website

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. My research into the adverse effects to both mother and child, not to mention the lack of effectiveness of the SSRI’s and SNRI’s in general, and the fact the mainstream medical community is regularly fraudulently claiming the adverse effects and withdrawal effects of this class of meds is ‘bipolar,’ leads me to believe this class of drugs is not beneficial to humanity as a whole.

    Although, prescribing this class of meds is a convenient way for doctors to railroad patients into the psychiatric system, to cover up easily recognized iatrogenesis, and proactively prevent a legitimate malpractice suit, due to a confessed “bad fix” on a broken bone.

    It was confessed to me by an ethical pastor that such medical misbehavior was “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Perhaps this “dirty little secret” needs exposure to all of humanity, since doctors having a “dirty little secret” way of railroading innocent patients into a stupidity fest of the psychiatric industry to proactively prevent malpractice suits is actually inappropriate human behavior?

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