Depression Home > Effexor and Pregnancy

Although Effexor and pregnancy have not been tested together in humans, pregnant animal studies suggest that the drug could potentially harm a fetus. Also, there have been reports of newborns developing complications after being exposed to Effexor during pregnancy. Some of the symptoms these newborns experienced include lack of oxygen in the blood, feeding difficulties,,and seizures. Despite these warnings, a healthcare provider may prescribe Effexor to a pregnant woman if its benefits outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.

Effexor and Pregnancy: An Overview

Effexor® (venlafaxine hydrochloride) 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.

Effexor 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 have not been studied in pregnant women but show side effects to the fetus in animal studies. A pregnancy C category medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that its benefits to the mother outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.

Effexor and Pregnancy: Third Trimester Concerns

There have been reports of fetuses developing complications after being exposed to Effexor, other SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) during the third trimester of pregnancy. Some of these complications required hospitalization, respiratory support, and/or tube feeding. 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 Effexor late during 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 Effexor after week 20 of pregnancy have a six-fold increase in the risk of delivering a baby with PPHN.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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