Seroxat, the anti-depressant that had been linked to heart abnormalities, is apparently safe to use in pregnant women, German researchers told a European fertility conference yesterday. The researchers said that they found no increased risk and that women might have unnecessarily terminated their pregnancies fearing that the drug could affect their babies.
Researchers at the University of Ulm studied 119 women treated with Seroxat for six years between 1999 and 2005. They then compared the pregnancies of these women with 645 women who did not use the drug.
Only three abnormalities were reported with the use of the drug, namely, clubfeet, a large port wine mark and neck muscle spasms. However in the group, which did not use the drug, 25 out of 557 babies were affected. But in the Seroxat group 15 percent decided to terminate their pregnancy as against 17 out of 557 in the non-drug group.
"We found that the rate of congenital abnormalities was not increased after using paroxetine in early pregnancy. Women and their physicians should discuss this information and make an informed decision, whether or not to continue with paroxetine during pregnancy," said lead researcher Dr Wolfgang Paulus, director of the Institute of Reproductive Toxicology at the University of Ulm.
"Concerned patients can be offered ultrasound and echocardiogram, which can rule out fetal cardiac problems in early pregnancy. Antidepressants should never be stopped abruptly as this can have serious ramifications for the mother," he added.