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Celexa: No Increased Risk of Birth Defects

December 27, 2005

Taking antidepressant Celexa (citalopram) during pregnancy does not raise the risk of adverse outcomes of pregnancy, including birth defects and neonatal complications, according to a recent Canadian study.

The study, by Anna Sivojelezova and colleagues from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the University of Toronto was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (December issue) and reported by on 21 December 2005.

The study also showed an approximately four-fold increased risk of admission to the neonatal intensive-care unit for infants of mothers who took citalopram in the third trimester. However, the researchers said that the reasons for this increased risk require further investigation.

Clinical Trial

Sivojelezova et al. evaluated 396 pregnant women, in three groups of 132 women each. These women had contacted Motherisk, a Toronto-based teratogen information center, to ask questions about citalopram's safety for use during pregnancy.

A total of 125 women took citalopram at least during the first trimester, and 71 women continued taking citalopram throughout pregnancy.

The researchers reported that 114 women had live births, 14 miscarried, two underwent elective abortions and two had stillbirths. Of the 108 infants born alive to mothers who took citalopram during the first trimester of pregnancy, one male infant was born with a "major" birth defect.

Average birth-weights, fetal-survival rates and gestational lengths were statistically consistent among the three groups of women.


Statistical analysis of these study data showed that taking citalopram in the third trimester posed no risk of additional birth defects.

However, there was a 4.2-fold increase in the incidence of admission to the neonatal intensive-care unit for infants exposed to citalopram in the third trimester, compared with infants who were not exposed.

The researchers noted that this increase might have been caused by late exposure to citalopram, but that additional research is required to prove this theory.

The authors wrote, "In summary, our findings do not support an association between citalopram [and] any major teratogenic risk in humans."

Posted: December 2005