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Mark Perlmutter
Mark Perlmutter
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Pregnant (Or Think You Might Be)?: Beware Birth Defects Caused By Psychotropic Drugs (Lamictal, Paxil, Zoloft & Prozac)

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The same medication helping you could be hurting your baby, as recent studies of psychotropic drug use show. The drugs Lamictal, Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac have now all been linked to birth defects in unborn children. There are a large number of women that are currently prescribed psychotropic drugs, with many others taking these medications without a prescription. While some psychotropic drugs may be taken safely during pregnancy, others have been found to create negative and sometimes fatal effects to your child in utero. Although psychological disorders left untreated can have negative impacts on the fetus, before starting a regimen of any medication, an expecting woman should first consult her physician to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Lamictal, an anticonvulsant drug used in the treatment of epilepsy, has been shown to increase the risk of cleft lip or palate in infants when taken in the first trimester of pregnancy. The FDA released this alert after a study by the North American Antieleptic Drug Pregnancy Registry showed that 5 cleft lip and palate cases occurred out of 564 women on Lamictal during pregnancy. Women who are currently taking, or have taken, Lamictal during pregnancy should inform their physician to make certain of the health and safety of their unborn child.

Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac, are all drugs labeled SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRIs are used to treat bulimia nervosa, panic, depressive disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder, among many others. The FDA released a warning on July 19, 2006 that infants are more prone to lung and pulmonary problems after being exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy.

Although SSRIs have not been directly linked to a substantial increase in any birth defects, studies are beginning to show an increase in incidence of birth defects due to their use. If you or anyone you know is taking an SSRI during pregnancy, or had been taking it before learning of their pregnancy, please contact your physician or healthcare professional. With proper medical treatment and care, we can ensure that our nation’s children don’t just have a fighting chance, but that they are destined to succeed.