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Lexapro Could Lead to Birth Defects, Study Finds Forward   

Neuronal cells
Lexapro Could Lead to Birth Defects, Study Finds

January 8, 2017


According to recent studies, taking certain SSRIs during pregnancy can result in an increased risk of the baby being born with a range of birth defects and/or complications. Several studies have shown that there is a connection between common SSRI antidepressants such as Lexapro with serious and even life threatening birth defects. Since, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to doctors and other health professionals about the potential dangers to the unborn fetus of taking Lexapro and certain other SSRIs whilst pregnant, warning that prenatal Lexapro exposure can lead to an increase risk of fetal congenital heart defects. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, taking SSRIs during pregnancy can also pose an increased risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).

About Lexapro

Lexapro is a popular SSRI which is prescribed in order to treat major depression. Approved in 2002 and manufactured by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the drug is often reported as effective for treating depression. A Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, the medication works by regulating the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which in turn affects a person’s mood and their overall mental health and wellness. In the case of Lexapro, the drug treats the patient by increasing the amount of serotonin produced in their brain, combatting the symptoms of depression.

Birth Defects

According to studies, taking Lexapro whilst pregnant can lead to serious birth defects in children. Newborns have a 6x increased risk of being born with PPHN when their mother has taken Lexapro during pregnancy, whilst there is an almost double risk of a child being born with heart defects when the mother has been prescribed this drug. Other health risks include club foot with a 5x increased risk, anencephaly, which is a fetal neural tube defect, craniosynostosis, gastroschisis, omphaloele, spina bifida, pulmonary atresia, esophageal atresia, and diaphragmatic hernia.

Are You Taking Lexapro?

If you are currently taking Lexapro to treat depression and are not pregnant, there should be no reason for you to stop taking the drug or switch to a different SSRI. However, pregnant women who are currently taking Lexapro and are worried about the potential harmful effects that it could have on their fetus should speak to their doctor or another health professional as soon as possible. However, bear in mind that abruptly stopping taking SSRI medication such as Lexapro can have a number of harmful side effects to the patient, so if you are pregnant and need to stop taking this medication, it is vital that you do so under the careful supervision of your doctor in order to avoid any further potential problems for you or your baby.



If you are currently suffering from depression and are pregnant, you might be worried that without Lexapro, it will be difficult to remain in control of your symptoms. Thankfully, there are many different alternatives to Lexapro that you may wish to try in order to treat depression. With the guidance of your doctor, you may be able to change to a different SSRI such as Zoloft or Celexa, which currently have no associated risk of birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

 On the other hand, you may wish to consider avoiding SSRIs completely whilst pregnant, and look to manage the symptoms of your mental illness in another way, for example mindfulness meditation or by speaking to an experienced therapist or counsellor. SSRIs are just one of many different ways to treat mental conditions such as depression, therefore if you’re worried about how taking medication will affect your baby, there is a vast array of other options to choose from when it comes to getting help.

Lexapro is a popular SSRI that’s been proven effective in treating major depressive disorder in many patients. However, the manufacturers of SSRIs such as Lexapro are not required to warn women who take these drugs about the risks of doing so whilst pregnant. With new studies bringing this information to light, it’s vital that women are made fully aware of the potential dangers of taking this drug whilst pregnant for their unborn child.

Depression is most commonly treated with medication such as SSRIs, however, taking drugs such as Lexapro whilst pregnant could have an adverse effect on your baby’s health. If you are currently pregnant and suffering from depression or pregnant and taking an SSRI, it’s important to make sure that you speak to your doctor about your medication and ensure that it is safe to take for both you and your child.



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