Saturday, December 02, 2006

Paxil and Birth Defects

Okey dokey, I don't normally post on Saturdays, but this is kinda important since almost everyone I know (okay, writers are a unique category) is on some kind of SSRIs.

The cover story in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the flagship journal for the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) has published the following alert:

Unpublished data regarding the use of Paxil® during the first trimester of pregnancy have raised concerns about an increased risk of congenital heart malformations. Thus, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory regarding the use of Paxil® during pregnancy and the manufacturer changed its pregnancy category from C to D...

...A Category D classification means a drug has been found to be harmful to human fetuses.

more here.

I guess a YEAR AGO (oops!) GlaxoSmithKline, in its OWN study (i.e., likely run as favorable to itself as possible) came out with data so worrisome it caused the FDA to issue warnings about an increased risk of birth defects.

Now, why did it take a YEAR to trickle down to ACOG (which is the governing body for your friendly OBs, the ones who answer your questions like, "Is it okay to continue to take Paxil while I'm pregnant?" and "Should I get a mammogram?") Looking at the numbers in the study, it seemed they didn't have too much trouble finding women who were taking Paxil while pregnant (eeek!) and then counting how many birth defects (particularly heart problems) their kids had.

What's even more frightening is the endless ads touting SSRIs for PMS (see your acupuncturist first, People!), which makes it more likely that if you --oops!-- get pregnant, you've already been taking Paxil/Zoloft/Prozac for weeks if not months into your pregnancy.

Always think twice when asked to take drugs. It's always in Big Pharma's interests to have us on SSRIs (or statins, or birth control pills, etc.) our whole lives (can you say "revenue stream?), who care what it does to our brain, hormones, immune system, OUR UNBORN CHILDREN...Remember, those "free" pens ain't free!


Miranda said...

Speaking of, there was a great article in the New York Times the other day (or last week) about stuffing kids with emotional problems full of multiple drugs. We're not just talking Ritalin but cocktails of antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, sleeping pills, etc. to kids as young as six. No one is bothering to ask the kids why they are unhappy and acting out -- just drug 'em!

Anonymous said...

I agree. We've gotten so cavalier about taking drugs and have even become accustomed to those endless side effects!

Contemporary lives are such a mess - with overwork and overconsumption - taking meds becomes a catch 22. For some people I know, it's hard to imagine them off their meds!


Unknown said...

I think we, as a society, have become too reliant on our "expert" medical physicians and we fail to use our own reasoning to question or inquire into exactly what it is we are taking. While doctors have (or should have) an obligation to provide the highest quality medical care possible, patients should also inform themselves on their conditions, medications prescribed, and possible alternatives. Paxil is a drug that can result in birth defects when taken by women during pregnancy. Here is a link with legal information on what to do if your child has sustained birth defects as a result of taking Paxil during pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.