Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressant drugs that first became available in the late 1980s. These days, when combined with psychotherapy, they are the most popular form of depression treatment, in part because they are generally well tolerated. Some patients do, however, experience SSRI side effects, including dizziness, nausea, insomnia, weight gain, headaches, and sexual side effects.
If you are pregnant, taking SSRIs can also cause your unborn baby to suffer adverse side effects. Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2006 and 2007 found that SSRI use during pregnancy doubles a child’s risk of being born with omphalocele defects (i.e., with his intestines protruding from his belly button), and septal defects—congenital heart defects that cause the heart to work harder because of poor blood circulation. More recently, research conducted in the United States and abroad has suggested that pregnant women’s SSRI use might increase the incidence of infants being born with brain development issues and reduced head size.
In the last few years, many mothers who took SSRIs while they pregnant and gave birth to children with related birth defects have filed lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and other drug manufacturers.