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Babies born addicted to their mothers' anti-depressants.

New-born babies may be at risk of serious withdrawal symptoms if their mothers take anti-depressants while pregnant, doctors warned yesterday.

Researchers found infants suffering shakes, convulsions, irritability and abnormal crying as a result of becoming addicted to their mothers' drugs.

They singled out paroxetine (Seroxat) as the drug posing the greatest risk and advised doctors not to prescribe it to pregnant women.

The use of other kinds of antidepressant should be "carefully monitored" they wrote in the Lancet journal.

The study led by Professor Emilio Sanz, from the University of Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, raises yet another question mark over the safety of Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), the most common antidepressants. In December 2003 regulators told doctors to stop prescribing most SSRIs to children amid fears that they could make young patients suicidal.

Earlier a similar warning focused on paroxetine and venflaxine (Efexor).

Prozac (fluoxetine) was said by the Medicines and |Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to have a "positive balance of risk and benefits" in treating under 18s. But last year a study published in the journal Science warned that pregnant women taking Prozac may be putting the future mental health of their unborn children at risk.

Young mice given the drug grew up anxious and depressed, the scientists led by Mark Ansorge at Columbia University, New York, found. It was believed the drug interfered with a critical stage of brain development.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2005
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