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Paxil birth defects reported

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The dangers of using Paxil, a widely prescribed antidepressant drug, are increasingly reported among patients who have become pregnant and had children with severe or deadly birth defects.

In December 2005, the FDA released an alert about the risk of Paxil birth defects. Following is an exerpt from that report:

The Food and Drug Administration today is alerting health care professionals and patients about early results of new studies for Paxil (paroxetine) suggesting that the drug increases the risk for birth defects, particularly heart defects, when women take it during the first three months of pregnancy. Paxil is approved for the treatment of depression and several other psychiatric disorders. FDA is currently gathering additional data and waiting for the final results of the recent studies in order to better understand the higher risk for birth defects that has been seen with Paxil.

FDA is advising health care professionals to discuss the potential risk of birth defects with patients taking Paxil who plan to become pregnant or are in their first three months of pregnancy. Health care professionals should consider discontinuing Paxil (and switching to another antidepressant if indicated) in these patients.

As if the side effects reported by so many patients aren’t enough, the latest mainstream media report from CBS News says that Paxil and other antidepressants do not actually help patients in coping with bipolar depression and other disorders.