Celexa (citalopram) is an antidepressant medication classified as a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI). Data recorded from the use of Celexa in pregnant women has influenced many healthcare providers to strongly advise against taking Celexa while pregnant. SSRIs like Celexa taken while pregnant have been linked to severe birth defects.
Birth defects resulting from the use of Celexa during pregnancy include persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), atrial septal defects, and ventricular septal defects.
PPHN is a health condition in which the newborn’s circulatory system is malfunctioning. Rather than flowing through the lungs in order to create an oxygen-rich bloodstream, the flow of blood (bypasses) the lungs, thus resulting in oxygen depletion throughout the entire body. The lack of oxygen causes a severe strain on the newborn’s organs to function properly.
Like PPHN, atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects are marked by deformations in the heart leading to a malfunctioning of the circulatory system.
Newborns suffering from atrial septal defects most commonly have perforations in the the septum, which is a wall of tissue separating two chambers in the heart. This perforation or defect in this tissue causes blood to slosh back and forth between these two atrial chambers. Atrial septal defects are commonly called holes in the heart.
Newborns with a ventricular septal defect have a perforation, or hole in the heart, between the two ventricle chambers of the heart. Untreated ventricular septal defects can sometimes result in a bacterial infection in the heart known as endocarditis.
The FDA has categorized Celexa as a Pregnancy C drug meaning that an increased risk for congenital birth defects when taken during pregnancy cannot be ruled out.
Common Celexa birth defects include but are not limited to:
Manufacturer: Forest Laboratories
FDA Approval: July 17, 1998 for major depression & general anxiety in adults
Generic Availability: October 28, 2004
Pregnancy Risk: Category C