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Study Finds Weak Link of Depression Drugs to Rare Birth Defect

Babies whose mothers took drugs for depression may be slightly more likely to have a severe circulation disorder, a new study suggests. But the condition is rare, the study found. The study focused on a birth defect called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. It disrupts normal circulation. Blood does not go to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Instead, it is pumped throughout the body without oxygen. This condition can be fatal. Researchers looked at data on 3.7 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid. During the last third of pregnancy, about 3% filled prescriptions for antidepressant drugs. Overall, 21 of every 10,000 babies whose mothers did not take these drugs while pregnant were born with the circulation problem. Among women who did take drugs for depression, there were 29 to 32 cases per 10,000.

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