The study, published in the Feb. 9 issue of NEJM, found that the babies suffering from the lung disorder known as persistent pulmonary hypertention cannot get enough oxygen into their bloodstreams because of high pressure in the blood vessels of their lungs, apparently brought on by their mother's use of antidepressants during pregnancy. One in 1,000 newborns typically develops the disorder shortly after birth.
The study has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to call for manufacturers of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- including Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Lexapro -- to include information on the risks of the lung disorder on the drugs' labels.
The NEJM study has left many women who take SSRIs confused as to whether or not to stop taking their antidepressants during pregnancy, since the study was published only days after the Journal of the American Medical Association released a report detailing the risks of a depression relapse in women who choose to stop taking prescription antidepressants during pregnancy.
FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro says, "It is important to emphasize that the FDA recommends that women who are expecting and currently taking antidepressants should not discontinue use without first talking with a doctor."
Safe alternatives to antidepressants can be found through natural health alternatives, including the herbs St. John's wort, lemon balm and Abizzia bark, as well as foods such as oily fish, oats and cabbage. However, women should always consult a qualified medical professional prior to making health decisions, especially during pregnancy.
In addition to this newly-discovered health risk to newborns, antidepressant drugs have recently been found to radically interfere with blood sugar metabolism, heightening the risk of blood sugar disorders and type-2 diabetes in patients.