Celexa and Birth Defects

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Celexa (Citalopram) is in a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Celexa is used to treat depression, anxiety, panic disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Celexa for treatment of depression in 1998.

Celexais currently classified as a Pregnancy Category C drug. There has been animal study evidence indicating that Celexa may have an adverse effect on the fetus when ingested during pregnancy.

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Studies Have Found a Link Between Celexa and Birth Defects

Celexa has been linked to a wide array of birth defects, including heart and neural tube defects:

  • In 2009, the British Medical Journal discovered that there was an increased risk of septal heart defects
  • In 2010, the Clinical Epidemiology Journal found that there was an association between Celexa and overall malformations
  • In 2011, Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal linked neural tube defects to the ingestion of Celexa during pregnancy.

Additionally, the FDA issued a warning in 2006, for all SSRIs including Celexa, regarding the association between persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (“PPHN”) and SSRIs.

Forest Laboratories has faced enormous controversy since the introduction of Celexa onto the U.S. market. In 2004, Forest Laboratories was accused of illegally marketing Celexa for use n children and teenagers. Forest Laboratories pled guilty to obstruction of justice and illegally promoting its drugs Lexapro and Celexa and paid $313 million including $164 million in criminal penalties.

In August 2011, the FDA revised the labeling for Celexa to warn patients that taking more than 40 mg per day could lead to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms. The label change comes on the heels of a published study that demonstrated higher doses of Celexa were associated with an increased risk of heart problems.

In March 2012, the FDA changed the warning label for Celexa, to alert patients that the drug is not recommended in patients with long QT syndrome.

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