Saturday, July 26, 2008

PPHN? A Potential Fatal Complication in Infants

I found out about PPHN, on the linked website.

What is PPHN?
Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) occurs when a newborn's circulation system does not adapt to breathing outside the womb. While a fetus is in the womb, it gets its oxygen from its mother's placenta through the umbilical cords, so the lungs need little blood supply. There is high blood pressure in the lungs, so blood in the pulmonary artery is sent away from the lungs to the other organs through a fetal blood vessel, called the ductus arteriosus.

When a baby is born and takes its first breaths, the blood pressure in their lungs falls and there is an increased blood flow to the lungs, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. The blood is then returned to the heart and pumped back out to the body. The ductus arteriosus constricts and permanently closes in the first day of life. However, in babies with PPHN, the pressure in the lungs remains high and the ductus arterious remains open, allowing blood to be directed away from the lungs.

PPHN is a rare, but life-threatening condition.


I found out more about the condition from WebMD, which stated that:
Babies whose mothers took antidepressant drugs in the second half of pregnancy are six times more likely to have a rare but dangerous lung ailment, a new study suggests.

One study isn't proof. But it's strong evidence that taking SSRI antidepressants -- such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil -- carries an extra risk during pregnancy.
I'm really steamed about the way the FDA minimizes the risk:
if in fact SSRIs cause PPHN, the risk appears to be low. For 100 women taking one of these medications late in pregnancy, only one may have a child with PPHN."

"This isn't a cause for panic among pregnant women taking these medicines," the FDA's Kweder says.
About 1 in 10 babies born with the condition dies; about 1/2 of those with moderate PPHN have hearing loss or brain damage.

That's a lot of babies with birth defects.

I am concerned, knowing how common use of the antidepressant medications are in the population of young women.

One of the law firms that is working to put together a class-action lawsuit is Paxil Attorneys California, whose website has more information about PPHN.

Further information can be found at:

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