- WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- One
of the most popular antidepressants, best known by the brand name Prozac,
can affect the development of babies when pregnant women take the drug,
according to a government report released on Tuesday.
- Normal doses can cause babies to be born lighter and
sleepier than normal, or make them jittery or cause respiratory problems,
the panel appointed by the National Toxicology Program said.
- "These effects appear to result more readily from
in utero exposure late in gestation," the report, issued for public
- The report is a summary from a working group of experts
who studied dozens of medical studies using the drug, known generically
- "The observed toxicity may be reversible, although
long-term follow-up studies have not been conducted to look for residual
effects," it adds.
- "The evidence suggests that developmental toxicity
can also occur in the form of shortened gestational duration and reduced
birth weight at term."
- The experts also noted several reports that found fluoxetine
could affect a patient's ability to achieve sexual climax -- both male
- It can get into breast milk and is found in the blood
of newborns of mothers taking the drug.
- The report, available on the Internet at http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/news/fluoxetine/fluoxetine_final.pdf
, says fluoxetine is widely used and can now be found in the environment.
- "Fluoxetine has been reported in U.S. surface waters,
presumably derived from urine and feces of people on therapy," the
report reads. One researcher found fluoxetine in bluegill fish.
- "The presence of fluoxetine ... in wastewater/groundwater/sediment
should be investigated," the report recommends.
- But the report noted it could be more dangerous for an
expectant or new mother to be seriously depressed.
- "Mood disorders are common in women of child-bearing
years and it has been estimated that 15.6 percent of women meet criteria
for major depression during the third trimester of pregnancy," the
- The panel also said more study was needed to find out
how and why antidepressants such as fluoxetine can stimulate production
of new brain cells. That could also affect a fetus or newborn baby in unexpected
ways, they said.
- Prozac is made by Eli Lilly and Co. and is also available
in generic form.
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