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Study finds Prozac and Sarafem linked to an increased risk of birth defects

The most commonly prescribed antidepressant, fluoxetine, sold under the trade names Prozac and Sarafem has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects when used by pregnant women.

In the analysis of 16 studies, infants exposed to fluoxetine during the first trimester had an 18% increased relative risk of major malformations and a 36% increased relative risk of cardiovascular malformations.

Anne Buist is a Professor of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne
 says, “children exposed to significant ongoing anxiety in pregnancy have higher cortisol levels at birth and this remains with them for a lifetime, a probable marker of altered stress response functioning which may make them more at risk of mental health problems.” 

“Women on antidepressants as a group, are much more likely than those not on them to be: overweight, have diabetes, smoke, use illicit drugs and multiple drugs and alcohol. Not all these were controlled for in these studies.” 

It should be noted that confounding variables play a significant part in the risk, and managing those which can be managed for any individual woman. 

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