Lexapro is an antidepressant drug. It belongs to a group of anti depression drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI. It is manufactured by Forest Laboratories. It restores the function and level of serotonin in the brain. This chemical is responsible for mood change disorder and depression. Lexapro contains escitalopram as main active ingredient. It is used for treating anxiety disorder in adults and major depressive disorder in adults and children above twelve years. It was approved by FDA for treatment of depression in adults in 2002. Later it was also approved for treatment of major depressive disorder in children above twelve years, in 2009.

As depression is common during pregnancy, it is a common practice to use Lexapro for its treatment. In February 2006 a study published in New England Journal of Medicine revealed that there is a higher risk of a life-threatening lung disorder in infants exposed to SSRI. Children who are born to mothers, who have taken SSRI drugs like Lexapro are at six time higher risk of developing Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension or PPHN. This led FDA to issue a Public Health Advisory on a birth defect linked to SSRI such as Lexapro in the same year.

Lexapro Birth Defects

Patients, who have taken Lexapro during pregnancy, are at higher risk of delivering a baby with while pregnant may increase their risk of giving birth to children with fatal and permanent birth defects. Some of these congenital birth defects may cause significant complications and leave the child to live an abnormal life, some children could even die.  These Children could suffer malformations and permanent injuries. Some of birth defects caused by Lexapro are as follows:

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

Children born to a mother who has taken SSRI such as Lexapro during pregnancy are more likely to born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of newborn or PPHN. Recent studies have also revealed this fact. It is a lung disorder, which could make child suffer for whole life.

Congenital Heart Defects

Patients taking SSRI’s such as Lexapro during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a child with Congenital Heart Defects. Lexapro is being linked with Atrial Septal Defects or Ventricular Septal Defects in newborns born to a mother who has used Lexapro during pregnancy.

Abdominal Birth Defects

Lexapro could cause abdominal birth defects in children, whose mother has taken this drug during pregnancy. It could trigger congenital abnormalities called Omphalocele.

Omphalocele is a congenital birth defect. In it there is a defect in wall of stomach and the child has his small intestine, liver, and large intestine protruding from the abdominal wall.

Cranial Birth Defects

Use of Lexapro during pregnancy could result into development of a congenital cranial defect called Craniosynostosis in the newborn. Craniosynostosis is a condition in which child is born with one or more openings or connections on the head. This results into9 abnormal shape of head in the child.

Anal atresia

Patients using Lexapro during pregnancy may have their child suffering from anal atresia. This is a condition in which anus is partialy or completely closed.

Limb Defect such as clubfeet

Child could be delivered with limb defects such as clubfeet, if mother has used Lexapro during pregnancy. Children with this condition have one or both feet turned inward at the ankle.

Neural tube defects

Patient, who have used Lexapro during pregnancy are at higher risk of giving birth to a child with neural tube defect. It is identified by an opening in the child’s spinal cord or brain. This occurs due to failure of nerve cells to fuse properly. Child may be born without some portions of the skull and brain. Some children may even die.

Spina bifida

Spina Bifida is caused by a neural tube defect in the lower spinal column. Spinal cord may protrude between the unfused bones. Spinal bone did not close in this condition.

Cleft lip

Use of Lexapro during pregnancy could also cause cleft lip in the unborn baby. A cleft lip occurs when tissues of upper lip fails to fuse properly.


Studies have revealed that SSRIs like Lexapro increases risk of autism in the child if taken by the mother during pregnancy. It increases risk of developing by two times.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If a patients has used Lexapro during pregnancy there are chances that the new born develops symptoms such as shortness of breath, turning blue, low blood sugar, jaundice, fluctuation in body temperatures, difficulty in feeding, convulsions, vomiting, stiffness, tremors and abnormal crying.

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