Lexapro is a drug to fight depression, which is one of the most common psychological issues experienced by people worldwide. And women are more susceptible to this mental issue. Unfortunately, the onset of pregnancy and end of pregnancy are two occasions during which women are more at risk. Escitalopram, alias Lexapro is effectively administrated in women experiencing postpartum depression. But, is it safe to use during pregnancy?

Lexapro can be taken for as long as required by the person affected by depression. However, there is no proven research that says it is a 100% safe drug to use during pregnancy. Therefore, if you have been taking Lexapro tablets for treating depression and find that you are pregnant, you should consult with your doctor before continuing it.

Read on to find out more about the Lexapro, its effects during pregnancy, and the problems associated with it.

What Is Lexapro?

Lexapro, which is also known as Escitalopram (generic), is a type of drug that belongs to the Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. As the name implies, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors help in restoring the balance of serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter that involves in the mood, sleep, and other bodily functions) in the brain. Lexapro is usually prescribed for treating depression in people. The serotonin content of this drug potentially influences a person’s state of mind and helps to relieve depression and anxiety and enhances one’s mood. It is, for that reason, used in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. It is also effectively used to treat OCD.

Is Intake Of Lexapro Safe During Pregnancy?

Lexapro is not recommended for pregnant mothers as it may affect the fetus as well as the mother. Lexapro belongs to category three of pregnancy safety rating. Studies have been conducted by administrating this drug to the animals. Unfavorable consequences are detected in the pregnancy and the fetus. However, no research is conducted on humans for the same. Lexapro is prescribed to expecting mothers only after considering how far they are into pregnancy, and only if the benefits of using this medicine outweigh the risks associated with it.

What If You Have Already Taken Lexapro (Escitalopram) During Pregnancy?

In case you had been taking Lexapro before you knew you were pregnant, it is better to tell your gynecologist about it. The doctor, based on your medical history, will then decide if you should continue with the medication or not. The sudden termination of this medicine can adversely affect your pregnancy. Therefore, more often, the doctors will progressively bring down the dose and finally stop it altogether.  During this time, they will closely monitor the mother.

What Are The Problems Associated With Weaning Off Lexapro While Pregnant?

If you had been on this medicine prior to pregnancy, then weaning off it may end up in annoying retreating symptoms and can potentially harm you and your baby. Some of the problems that can be faced are;

  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent episodes of confusion
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Frequent headaches
  • Severe Insomnia

Some of the problems that the baby may face upon delivery are;

  • Difficulty in latching and feeding
  • Low birth weight
  • Breathing issues
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Respiratory distress
  • Colic
  • Jitters and tremors

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Lexapro During Pregnancy?

Studies have proven that being on Lexapro during pregnancy can result in many birth defects for the newborn. It can even result in spontaneous abortion. Some of the defects that can be found are;

1. Neonatal Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN):

This is a condition where the newborn will face breathing problems and will be kept under a ventilator in the NICU immediately upon birth.

2. Preterm Delivery:

Continuing this medicine even after the first three months of pregnancy can lead to hypertension, which may result in miscarriage or premature birth of the baby. The babies who are delivered before the gestational age of 37 weeks are more likely to have health concerns.

3. Increase The Odd Of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Usage of Lexapro during pregnancy can result in Autism Spectrum in children where the child will face difficulty in communicating and development of language skills.

4. Increase The Odd Of Newborn Behavioural Syndrome:

Lexapro can also result in behavioral syndrome in newborns and infants, such as problems in latching and feedings, colic, seizures, and breathing problems.

5. Increase The Risk Of Cleft Lip:

Facial deformities like palate and cleft lips are the most frequent birth defects faced by new-borns if the mother was under Lexapro medication during pregnancy.

6. Increase The Odds Of Omphalocele:

Omphalocele is a condition where the baby’s intestines and abdominal organs are on the exterior of the body due to the hole in the belly button. This leads to infections and abdominal cavity.

All of these birth defects can severely affect the baby’s life; hence, it always recommended to consult with your doctor before continuing Lexapro during pregnancy.

Who Is Responsible If Lexapro Leads To Birth Defects?

As seen above, there have been various proven studies linked to newborn birth defects. It is, therefore, the responsibility of your doctor to advise you of the side effects of consuming Lexapro during pregnancy. Some of the doctors also get a written statement signed and sealed by the pregnant mother affirming that they have understood the repercussions of the medicine on them and the baby’s health. Even pharmaceuticals are held responsible and hence should explain the negative effects of the drug on pregnant women.

If the doctor has failed in informing the mother about the risks of the drug and if the baby is born with birth defects, the doctors or the drug manufacturer can be sued legally.

Depression is a mental condition that can be cured with a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and the appropriate supplements. However, if there is a need for antidepressants such as Lexapro, you should have it only under the recommendation and supervision of a doctor.