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Zoloft in Pregnancy Linked to Birth Defects in Heart, Skull

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January 30, 2015 — Yet another study has linked the use of Zoloft during pregnancy with an increased risk of “hole in the heart” defects and rare but serious skull defect.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and based on nearly 18,500 pregnancies in Quebec between 1998 and 2010.

About 366 pregnant women used Zoloft and 3,300 used other antidepressants. The researchers found that babies exposed to Zoloft in the womb were 34% more likely to be born with a heart defect, known as an atrial or ventricular septal defect.

They were also more than twice as likely to develop craniosynostosis, a skull defect that occurs when a baby’s soft bone plates fuse together prematurely, resulting in a small and often abnormally-shaped head. Some babies with craniosynostosis must have surgery to enlarge the skull and give the brain enough room to grow.

Zoloft was associated with septal defects and craniosynostosis in two studies published in 2007 by the New England Journal of Medicine.

One study found that Zoloft doubled the risk of septal heart defects. The other study found that craniosynostosis was 2.5-times more likely to occur in babies exposed to Zoloft in the first trimester of pregnancy.

 

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