A recent study has found that children born to mothers using antidepressants such as Paxil had slower head development and were more likely to be born prematurely. The study—conducted in The Netherlands and from date involving nearly 8,000 pregnant women—focused on the effects of a type of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which includes Paxil.
The results of the study raise additional questions about the safety of SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil for pregnant women. Children born to a woman who used an antidepressant while pregnant had a head 4 millimeters smaller on average. More than 10% of women using an SSRI in the study had a preterm birth. Both conditions have been linked to an increased risk of future developmental problems.
Several studies have already found that women who use Paxil while pregnant are more likely to give birth to a child with heart defects or other birth defects. Warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 and 2006 stated that the drug could lead to severe birth defects, including septal defects and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).