The Centers for Disease Control has published an analysis on the use of a class of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Paxil during pregnancy and whether or not there is a link to birth defects in babies born to women who took these antidepressants immediately before becoming pregnant and in the first trimester of their pregnancies. The report which was published in the British Medical Journal in July 2015 included 17,952 mothers of children who had been born with birth defects and 9,857 mothers of children born without birth defects who were born between 1997 and 2009.
For the study, the researchers asked women what medications they had taken in the month before and the first trimester of their pregnancy. They took that information and analyzed whether women who took specific medications were at an increased risk of having a baby born with birth defects than the women who did not take any of these medications.
Paxil and Prozac and birth defects lawsuits
While the study did not definitively prove that Paxil and Prozac cause birth defects, it does support a link between some SSRIs and the higher risk of birth defects. Both Paxil and Prozac were linked with a birth defect that obstructs blood flow from the heart to the lungs. Prozac was linked to misshapen skulls and Paxil was linked to abdominal wall defects, however the evidence was not strong enough to show direct causation in every case.
Women have been filing lawsuits against the GlaxoSmithKline, the drug manufacturer, for their failure to test these drugs rigorously enough to discover the harmful side effect of birth defects in babies born to women who took the drug in pregnancy. They have also brought legal action against the drug maker for failing to warn about the risk of having children born with congenital heart defects. Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has already paid a significant sum to the U.S. Department of Justice for inaccuracies in the marketing of Paxil and other drugs.