The causes of birth defects are numerous and varied. Many of them are still shrouded in mystery, leaving some pregnancies harmed in the midst of perfectly healthy ones. But in the past several years, one factor has risen to the surface as having devastating potential for birth defects.
Multiple cases have emerged showing that SSRI anti-depressants significantly heighten the risk of ventricular heart defects, brain and spinal cord defects and major cardiovascular anomalies.
SSRI stands for selective serontonin reuptake inhibitor. They are used to treat social anxiety, chronic panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, along with depression. SSRIs work by stopping the brain’s nerve cells from re-absorbing serotonin (commonly thought of as the “feel-good hormone”), which it usually does after releasing serotonin into the body. When the serotonin is allowed to hang out longer in the gaps between nerve cells, it’s easier for the brain to regulate mood.
That is the theory, anyway. In practice, SSRIs have proved very controversial. Continue reading