WASHINGTON ¡ª Pregnant women and those who plan to become pregnant should
avoid taking the antidepressant Paxil if possible because of the risk of birth
defects, a group of obstetricians said Thursday.
The opinion issued by
the obstetric practice committee of the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists comes nearly a year after the Food and Drug Administration and
manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline reclassified the drug to reflect studies in
pregnant women that showed the drug poses a risk to the fetus.
Two studies of pregnant women who were taking Paxil during their first
trimester have shown that their babies have heart defects at a rate that is as
much as twice the norm, the FDA said at the time.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also said the
decision whether to treat pregnant women with SSRIs, a class of antidepressants
that includes Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro as well as Paxil, should be considered
on an individual basis.
Exposure to SSRIs late in pregnancy has been associated with short-term
complications in newborns, the doctors said.
However, reproductive-age women have the highest prevalence of major
depressive disorders. The benefit to the mother of treatment with any of the
drugs may outweigh the risk to the fetus.
The opinion appears in the December issue of the journal Obstetrics &