In December 2005, with an FDA warning, a popular antidepressant was placed into its second-highest category for risk of birth defects. It was not said that Paxil could never be used by pregnant women, but it did say the FDA “is advising patients that this drug should usually not be taken during pregnancy.”
The advisory was based on early results from two studies, which found that women who took Paxil in the first three months of pregnancy were 1 1/2 to two times more likely to give birth to a child with a heart defect than women who took other antidepressants or pregnant women overall. The studies found that Paxil had a risk of birth defects that other common antidepressants did not.
Six years later, a Canadian study, which appears in the March 2012 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, TimesUnion.com said that woman taking the SSRI Paxil during and after pregnancy are at increased risks for developing high blood pressure. Specifically, women taking Paxil were at an astounding 80% increased risk for being diagnosed with hypertension.
TimesUnion.com noted that Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline, set aside $2.4 billion in July 2010 to settle outstanding liabilities, including to settle Paxil birth defect lawsuits brought about by parents alleging that use of Paxil during pregnancy resulted in persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN) and other health problems in their infants.
PPHN is a life-threatening condition for a newborn and is caused when arteries leading to the lungs constrict upon birth, blocking blood flow and air to the vital organs. Up to 10% of newborns with PPHN do not survive treatment.
Last July, a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 31 of 10,000 women who took Paxil gave birth to a child with a heart defect, compared to only seven among the same number of mothers who did not take Paxil.