Lexapro and Pregnancy

Lexapro and pregnancy is a bad combination because the medication could potentially cause harm to an unborn child. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Lexapro is classified as a pregnancy Category C medicine, which means it should be given to a pregnant woman only if her healthcare provider believes that its benefits outweigh the potential risks to her unborn child. There have been reports of fetuses developing complications that require hospitalization, respiratory support, and/or tube feeding after they were exposed to Lexapro during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Lexapro and Pregnancy: An Overview

Lexapro® (escitalopram oxalate) is a pregnancy Category C medicine, meaning that it could potentially cause harm to your unborn child. This is especially true during the third trimester of pregnancy.
 

Lexapro and Pregnancy Category C

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that show side effects to the fetus in animal studies, but for which no human studies in pregnant women have been done. A pregnancy Category C medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that the benefits outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.
 

Lexapro and Pregnancy: Third Trimester Concerns

There have been reports of fetuses developing complications that require hospitalization, respiratory support, and/or tube feeding after they were exposed to Lexapro during the third trimester of pregnancy. These newborns experienced a number of symptoms, including:
 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Constant crying.
     
Babies who are exposed to Lexapro during late pregnancy are also at an increased risk of developing persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN is associated with significant complications and even death. Women who take an SSRI, such as Lexapro, after week 20 of pregnancy have a six-fold increase in the chances of delivering a baby with PPHN.
 
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