Effexor and pregnancy

Effexor, also known as Venlafaxine, is an antidepressant used in treating the mental imbalances such as panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Patients of both sexes having the above disorders are treated with Effexor for getting remedies in a gradual manner. In case of women, they are bestowed with the natural responsibility of begetting children. Therefore, treating pregnant women becomes more critical when compared to treating others. Generally, all antidepressants cause side effects. These effects vary with the drug and the person using it. Effexor is not an exception to it.

Effexor is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America. This can be used by physicians for treating mental imbalances. However, there are norms for administering these drugs. Effexor should be taken only in a little quantity to begin with. The dosage is increased by doctors in the due course of treatment, so that the side effects of this medicine could be minimized. Effexor is not only a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, but also a Serotonin norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor. This means, Effexor, when taken orally, increases the level of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the chemicals present in the brain. These two chemicals are responsible for maintaining the good mood of a person.

It is therefore very essential that Effexor is used in optimum dosages.

On trials with animals, it was observed that there was an increase in stillborn pups during the first five days of lactation in the cases of mother animals, fed with Effexor during pregnancy and continuing it until the delivery time. Even though these studies did not conclude on the cause of deaths, logically it could be due to the intake of Effexor during the pregnancy. It was thought that Effexor crossed the human placenta near term.

In a study 150 women were given during the first trimester. The pregnancy outcomes of these women were compared with that of the women who were given SSRI and another group of women who were given nonteratogenic drugs. Most of the women in the Effexor group were given 75 mg per day. About 125 women among the 150, who were given Effexor during pregnancy, delivered live babies and 18 women had abortions. Two women gave birth to babies of malformations. These women and the other five underwent therapeutic abortions. Anyway, for concluding on the effect of Effexor, it was felt by the experts that testing only 150 women were not sufficient. However, women who used Effexor during pregnancy to combat depression had neonatal side effects such as irritability, restlessness and hypertonia.

Medical experts opine that taking Effexor during pregnancy will affect the unborn babies. Therefore, they advise pregnant women to reduce the dosages slowly. The doctors also apprehend that this drug could cause unknown effects, thus increasing the risk factor. They advise these women not to take a chance. There are reports of newborns developing complications due to their mothers using Effexor when they were pregnant. Some newborn babies of these mothers had signs such as lack of oxygen in the blood. Some babies suffered seizures too. Some babies were having feeding difficulties. Yet, Effexor can be prescribed to pregnant women if the benefits achieved by taking Effexor outweigh the risks that could be caused by Effexor to their unborn babies. It is always to be borne in mind that the harmful effects of Effexor usually occur during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has classified the risks a fetus can suffer, when pregnant women are treated with a particular medicine. The medicines which have not been studied fall under the Category C. However, these medicines were found to affect the animal fetus. If women take Effexor during their late stage of their pregnancy, the risks are not ruled out then also.

Conclusively, if you are a pregnant woman taking Effexor, let your doctor know about it. Your doctor will assess the benefits and risks and advise you accordingly. Your doctor still may recommend weaning off Effexor, particularly in the third trimester of your pregnancy.