In September 2005, GlaxoSmithKline (Paxil’s manufacturer) warned doctors that Paxil use by women during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause significant birth defects, including heart problems. In a study of 3,500 pregnant women, Paxil users’ children were twice as likely to develop major birth defects and were about 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have a baby with heart problems compared to other anti-depressants. Most birth defects caused by Paxil use include heart problems such as ventricular and atrial septal defects.

Paxil Heart Problems: Ventricular Septal Defect

The most common Paxil heart problem birth defect is ventricular septal defect (VSD). VSD is a heart problem in where a hole develops between the right and left pumping chambers of the heart. Babies with large VSDs will do well the first few weeks after birth, however, if the VSD heart problem is left untreated it will become dangerous and can lead to congestive heart failure.

VSD is the most common infant heart problem, occurring in 0.1% to 0.4% of all births. VSD makes up 20-30% of all infant heart problems.

The signs of VSD heart problems in a child include:

  • Abnormal growth
  • Lower energy levels compared to children the same age
  • Difficulty Eating

Medication can be used to cure VSD and a feeding tube may be needed to assist eating. Surgery may be necessary to close the hole if the medication is not properly working.

Paxil Heart Problem: Atrial Septal Defect

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a heart problem where a hole develops between the two upper chambers of the heart. The hole may eventually close, but many times it needs to be surgically repaired. An ASD heart problem may be diagnosed at birth but very often ASD symptoms will not be realized until the person is in their 20s, 30s, and even their 40s.

ASD symptoms in infants include poor appetite, abnormal growth, and signs of heart failure. Adult ASD heart problem symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of legs, feet, or abdomen
  • Excessive heart beating.

Large ASDs also increase the risk of other heart problems, including heart attacks and stroke.

Did Paxil cause your heart problems?

If you or a loved one has taken Paxil during pregnancy and your child is suffering from heart problems or other birth defects, please contact us today. Remember, ASD heart problem symptoms may not manifest until adulthood so if you took Paxil during your pregnancy, please contact a health professional.

Published November 17, 2011 by