Specific SSRIs and birth defects: bayesian analysis to interpret new data in the context of previous reports

The focus of this study was to reanalyze previous studies using Bayesian analysis to determine which SSRIs, if any, were associated with different types of birth defects.

The study took place across 10 centers in the U.S., with almost 18,000 mothers of infants who did not experience birth defects and almost 10,000 mothers of infants who did experience birth defects. The study then looked to see if these mothers had used citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, or sertraline in the month before pregnancy through the third month of pregnancy. The study was adjusted to take into accound race/ethnicity, education level, smoking, and obesity of the mother.

The study concluded that the most commonly used SSRI was sertraline, but no birth defects could be correlated to the use of this drug. There were also no defects strongly correlated with citalopram or escitalopram. The researchers concluded that some birth defects did occur 2-3.5 times more frequently in the infants of women using paroxetine or fluoxetine early in pregnancy.

This study is interesting to me, as it gives us a better guideline of which SSRIs are safer to use in pregnant women. If the switch from one type of SSRI can dramatically reduce the risk of birth defect, I think most mothers would be happy to know this and would be very likely to switch medications.

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