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Lexapro and Life-Threatening Birth Defects

Approved by the FDA in 2002, Lexapro is in a class of medicines called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, and is used to treat depression and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Since 2002, Lexapro has been used by millions of Americans for anxiety and depression. However, in July 2006, the FDA issued an alert announcing the results of a study looking at the use of antidepressant medicines during pregnancy by mothers of babies born with a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The results showed that babies born to mothers who took Lexapro were more likely to develop PPHN.


PPHN is a failure of the normal circulatory transition that occurs after birth. It is a syndrome characterized by marked pulmonary hypertension that causes hypoxemia and right-to-left extrapulmonary shunting of blood. Babies born with PPHN have abnormal blood flow through the heart and lungs and do not get enough oxygen to the body. Babies born with PPHN can be very sick and may die.



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