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Celexa Birth Defects

Celexa Birth Defects: Celexa Use During First Trimester Linked to Birth Defects

Celexa (Citalopram), an antidepressant prescription drug sold by Forest Laboratories, Inc., has been found to cause a range of cardiac and other birth defects. Celexa birth defects include Anencephaly, Craniosynostosis, Omphalocele, Club Foot and Spina Bifida. Celexa use during pregnancy has also been found to increase the risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).  Celexa is classified as one of several Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, all of which have been found to cause similar birth defects. The National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a project of the CDC, recently outlined groundbreaking data regarding birth defects caused by Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants.  The risk of birth defects is thought to be particularly high if the fetus is exposed to Celexa during the first and third trimesters in utero, but can cause harm at any stage.

Celexa Birth Defects

Celexa use has been discouraged for pregnant women due to evidence that Celexa increases the risk of many different birth defects.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which confirmed Celexa's link to birth defects caused by the pregnant mother taking Celexa prior to pregnancy or during the first trimester and third. Conclusive results showed that Celexa use specifically causes an increase in cardiac or congenital heart defects, but it may cause an even higher risk for other types of birth defects.

Of all the health problems Celexa has been found to cause, those suffered by infants whose mothers took Celexa during pregnancy are the most extreme.  Tests of the levels of Setraline in the umbilical cord blood show that a fetus can be exposed to as much as one-third of the Celexa level in the mother's bloodstream.  Celexa is also dangerous when taken by breastfeeding mothers, as infants have been found to be exposed to Setraline in that fashion as well.  Cardiac birth defects have been most severe in infants who were exposed to Celexa during their first trimester in utero.

Celexa Use Increases the Risk of Anencephaly

This is a condition in which the neural tube, or the tissue around the spinal cord and brain, does not develop properly during the earliest period of fetal growth.  Neural tubes that are not closed lead to conditions such as the absence of a skull, the absence of the cerebral hemispheres and cerebellum portions of the brain, facial feature abnormalities and heart defects. Anencephaly is very rare, happening in only about 1 in 10,000 births.  Use of Celexa by a pregnant mother may increase risk factors by 200% or more, as revealed in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Craniosynostosis More Common with Celexa Use

This is a congenital birth defect that causes the skull bones to fuse together prematurely.  Babies are normally born with separate skull bones, which allow for the brain to grow in the early childhood years.  Craniosynostosis results in an oddly-shaped head, but more significantly, requires major surgery to correct so that the infant does not experience problems related to brain swelling when the brain grows at its normal rate.

Omphalocele Birth Defects Increase with Celexa Intake

This is a circumstance where the umbilical muscles do not form properly, causing the intestine and abdominal muscles to stick out at the navel and grow outside of the umbilical cord.  Infants born with this problem must undergo major corrective surgery.  The New England Journal of Medicine published research in 2007 that indicated Celexa use by the mother may double the chances of a baby being born with omphalocele birth defects.

Other Celexa Birth Defects

Club foot and spina bifida are birth defects that have also been found to be caused by Celexa use during pregnancy.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

In addition to increasing the risk of a variety of birth defects, Celexa can also cause problems in babies shortly after birth.  Newborns whose mother took Celexa during their third trimester of pregnancy are at an increased risk for developing Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension.  This is a condition in which there is a failure of the normal circulatory transition that takes place when a baby is born.

Celexa Manufacturer, Forest Laboraties, Embroiled in Legal Problems

Forest Laboratories, Inc., the company that manufactures and markets Celexa, faced two separated lawsuits during 2004. Allegations were made that the company had engaged in illegal marketing practices for Celexa (citalopram) and another SSRI antidepressant, Lexapro (escitalopram) and also concealed research results that showed the drugs were dangerous for children.  The lawsuits were based on an accusation that Forest Laboratories had marketed the two drugs to kids and adolescents, in spite of the fact the drug is only FDA-approved for adults.  The FDA requires Celexa and Lexapro to be accompanied by a Black Box Warning, the strongest warning label the agency requires for dangerous drugs.  The lawsuits were brought by a Forest Laboratories salesman and a non-practicing doctor, who were alarmed that the company was marketing these two drugs to young people despite serious side effects (including an increase in suicidal tendencies) found to occur in that demographic.  Federal prosecuters accused Forest Laboratories of giving kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing the both Lexapro and Celexa to kids despite their proven risks.  The allegations, which in 2009 were combined into one large case, resulted in a $313 Department of Justice settlement. Read more

More information on Celexa birth defects can be found at The Onder Law Firm's Celexa birth defects website at