I was watching “17 Kids and Counting” tonight when one of those “if you’ve taken ______________ and had ______________ side effect” commercials came on.Â? The reason I’m blogging on this one: it was about Paxil and birth defects and pregnancy.Â? Since OMG this is my life right now, here’s the scoop:
I’m not on Paxil — I’m on Effexor XR.Â? The birth defect associated with Paxil is different than the one associated with Effexor and other SSRI/SNRI medications.Â? The news on Paxil and birth defects has also been known for at least the last three years and pretty much every family practice/OB-GYN is aware of it.Â? Heck, they’ve known about the connection between an increased risk of heart defects and most anti-depressants for at least that long if not longer because I’ve known about the risks for at least that long.Â? As for taking it while pregnant, your doctor will try and wean you off BEFORE you get pregnant if they’re aware that you’re trying to conceive.Â? I think if we’d known that I would be pregnant in October, my doctor would have started getting me off of Effexor in July (after my septoplasty) just so that the risk would be minimized.
Having said all of this, there is also the fact that the benefits to the mother outweigh the risk to the fetus in many cases (i.e. MEEEEEEEE).Â? I don’t know what the specific risk is with Paxil (I do know that it’s at least a Category D medication if not completely blackboxed for pregnant chicks) but I know that the risk for the defect with Effexor was a 4 in 10000 chance — 10 times higher than in the general populace but still pretty small compared to the normal risk for things like Down’s Syndrome, autism, and spina bifida.Â? (In comparison, Effexor XR and many anti-depressants are Category C.)Â? If you become pregnant, your doctor pretty much KNOWS everything you take and regulates it down to how much Tylenol you are allowed, what vitamins you take, and all that.Â? If you’re on something like Paxil or Effexor, they will do special testing and ultrasounds to make sure that the heart defect isn’t present or that you have a contingency plan in place (like getting the child emergency surgery, oxygen, whatever after birth) if it is.Â? It’s not like your doctor would allow you to take something like this and leave you in the dark after the kid is born with a heart defect — you’re warned going into the pregnancy.
My take: the law firms with this lawsuit need to take it off the freaking airwaves and focus on more important things than ambulance-chasing.