Lexapro Birth Defects
Approved to treat: Major depression
Drug category: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Year approved: 2002
Manufacturer: Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Babies who are prenatally (before birth) exposed to Lexapro have an increased risk of developing serious or life-threatening birth defects. According to studies, taking certain SSRIs during pregnancy can result in risks as high as the following:
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) – 6x increased risk
- Anencephaly (fatal neural tube defect) – 2.5x increased risk
- Clubfoot – 5x increased risk
- Craniosynostosis (craniofacial defect) – 2.5x increased risk
- Omphalocele (abdominal wall defect) – nearly tripled risk
- Gastroschisis (abdominal wall defect) – 30% increased risk
- Pulmonary Atresia – 3x increased risk
- Spina Bifida – 60% increased risk
- Diaphragmatic Hernia – 80%increased risk
- Esophageal Atresia – 30% increased risk
- Heart Defects – nearly doubled risk
Multiple Studies Find Link Between Lexapro Exposure and Birth Defects
Several studies have shown the connection between SSRIs such as Lexapro and serious or even life threatening birth defects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned doctors and patients that Lexapro exposure prenatally can pose an increased risk of congenital heart defects to the fetus. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that SSRIs presented an increased risk of PPHN. The FDA also warned about the links between SSRIs and PPHN. The National Birth Defects Prevention Study of Infants reports that SSRIs such as Lexapro may cause two abdominal and craniofacial birth defects.
While the risk varies for each defect, one thing is clear: women should be warned of these dangerous and potentially fatal side effects before becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of SSRI anti-depressants are not currently required to warn users of these increased risks and, as a terrible result, babies continue to be harmed.