Paxil and Pregnancy


Paxil is an antidepressant drug that is potentially dangerous according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its manufacturer, Glaxo Smith Kline. Due to its various side effects, especially birth defects caused in babies born to mothers using Paxil during pregnancy, exposure to the drug has often served as the basis of litigation.

Paxil and pregnancy

Studies show that the babies born to mothers who took Paxil in early pregnancy were at an increased risk of developing birth defects. Due to a high rate of heart-related birth defects in babies of mothers exposed to Paxil, the FDA directed the drug's manufacturer to change the pregnancy category of the antidepressant to a "D" from its previous category of "C". A category "D" drug is defined as:

"There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks."

GlaxoSmithKline's spokeswomen Gaile Renegar herself recommends:

"For women who intend to become pregnant or are in their first trimester of pregnancy, other treatments and options should be considered first before initiating Paxil…"

Arterial septal defect (ASD)

Paxil may lead to the development of a birth defect known as arterial septal defect. ASD is a serious congenital heart defect, which may prove fatal, especially if it leads to further complications such as heart failure, stroke, etc.

ASD entails a condition when an opening between the upper chambers of the heart (atria), does not close at the time of birth. Due to this, blood continues to flow between both chambers. It leads to a decreased level of oxygen in the blood that goes to the body.

Some of ASD's many symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Palpitations in adults
  • Frequent respiratory infections in children
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Depending upon the size of ASD, it may be treatable with or without surgery. Children, who have had surgery, may have to take medications to avoid heart infections.

    Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

    Paxil may also cause ventricular septal defect. Unlike ASD, VSD is a common congenital heart defect. It, too, can prove fatal with complications like heart failure, etc.

    VSD is a heart condition in which there are one or more holes develop in the wall separating the left and right ventricles of the heart. If the hole(s) is large, then the baby's heart runs the risk of pumping too much blood in the lungs, leading to heart failure.

    Some of the many symptoms of VSD are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Sweating while feeding
  • Fast heart rate
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Paleness
  • Hard breathing
  • A large hole may be closed with surgery and medications. However, follow-up surgery may be required.

  • Paxil while pregnant

    Therefore Paxil while pregnant could be harmful especially in early pregnancy. But even in the later months and especially during the last 3 months, the drug has the potential of causing the following withdrawal symptoms in babies such as:

  • Constant crying
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Feeding/breathing difficulties
  • If your baby suffers from any of the above and you took Paxil during pregnancy, there might be a causal or an associative relationship that can serve the grounds for a Paxil lawsuit.

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    Q:What do I need to know about Paxil and pregnancy?

    A:If the doctor has prescribed you Paxil in pregnancy, it is important that you stay aware of its dangerous side effects. Paxil can result in serious side effects for the mother and baby. Serious birth defect cases have been highlighted in past, where newborns suffered from life threatening defects. You will need to consult your doctor before starting or withdrawing the use of Paxil during pregnancy.

    Q:How can I prevent the withdrawal effects of Paxil during pregnancy?

    A:If you wish to minimize the withdrawal effects of Paxil during pregnancy, you will need to contact your doctor. It is not recommended that you abruptly stop the use of medicine, as it can result in various effects. Normally, a slow tapering of the dose is recommended by doctors to prevent or minimize the withdrawal side effects.

    Q:What can you tell me about taking Paxil while pregnant?

    A:Doctors have not given Paxil a clean bill of health and it is not a safe drug to use in pregnancy. It can result in harmful effects not only on the mother, but the baby as well. Many birth defect cases have been highlighted due to the use of drug in pregnancy.

    Q:Is it safe to take Paxil while pregnant?

    A:No, Paxil is not a safe option for pregnant women. It can result in many serious side effects for the mother and the baby. Serious birth effects have resulted in babies due to the use of this drug in pregnancy. If you have been prescribed the drug, you must consult your doctor about its side effects.

    Q:I have heard of several Paxil pregnancy risks. How can one prevent these side effects?

    A:If you are using Paxil during pregnancy, it is recommended that you immediately contact your doctor and discuss its side effects. Paxil is not a safe drug to be used in pregnancy, and it does not just have negative health effects on the mother, but babies are in a danger of several birth defects as well.