THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Women who use antidepressants called selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Celexa during pregnancy run a slight risk of having an infant with high blood pressure in the lungs, a new Swedish study finds.
The condition, known as persistent pulmonary hypertension, can lead to shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Although rare, severe disease is associated with heart failure, the investigators noted.
"Infants born to women treated with SSRIs in late pregnancy had a twofold increased risk [of] their infants having persistent pulmonary hypertension," said lead researcher Dr. Helle Kieler, head of the Centre for Pharmacoepidemiology at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
"The increased risk seemed to be a class effect of SSRIs, as risks for the specific SSRIs were of similar magnitude," she added.
Women taking SSRIs should be informed about the increased risk, but they should also be told that persistent pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease that affects fewer than two of 1,000 newborns, Kieler said.
"If possible, non-medical treatment for depression during pregnancy should be considered," she said. "For women where treatment with an SSRI is the only or best option, the choice of substance is of less importance."
Dr. Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk Program at The Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said this finding does not prove that SSRIs cause persistent pulmonary hypertension.
"It is important that, before we scare pregnant women not to treat their depression in pregnancy, we ensure that the science overcomes its methodological limitations," he said.
"Most notably, the authors have chosen SSRIs as the potential cause for persistent pulmonary hypertension, while their results show that
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