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Recent studies are showing that use of Paxil and other SSRIs (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) during any part of a woman’s pregnancy may cause severe health risks to the unborn child. In late 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning consumers that exposure to paroxetine (Paxil) during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk for congenital malformations, particularly cardiac defects.

In February 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published an original article reporting the results of a case control study to assess whether there was an association between PPHN, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and exposure to SSRIs during late pregnancy. The authors concluded that the data supported an association between maternal use of SSRIs such as Paxil after the 20th week of gestation and development of PPHN in the newborn. The study also showed that neither use of SSRIs before the 20th week of gestation nor use of non-SSRI antidepressant drugs at any time during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of PPHN.

Paxil and other SSRIs are widely used (apparently with great benefit) to treat depression. However, based on the studies showing connections between Paxil and adolescent suicide and the recent link between maternal use during pregnancy and catastrophic results to their infants, all pregnant women who are taking Paxil or other SSRIs for depression should immediately consult their physician to see whether they can be treated with a non-SSRI antidepressant. Pregnant women who took Paxil during their pregnancies and delivered children with cardiac malformations or PPHN should immediately consult an experienced products liability attorney.

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