A recent study from New England Journal of Medicine revealed that SSRI like Zoloft could be more dangerous for new born as it may cause birth defects that are permanent and irreversible. The study found that infants who are exposed to such drugs while they are in the womb of the mother are twice as likely as other infants to experience a particular kind of birth defect called as Craniosynostosis. The disease is characterized by an abnormal shaped skull in the baby that occurs due to early fusion of any of the seven parts of the skull. Normally an infant’s skull is made up seven bones, with gaps (cranial sutures) between them that do not fuse until the child is approximately two years old, this allows their brain to grow and develop.

The premature fusion and closing of the skull in infant could eventually inhibit the growth of the brain and there is every possibility that the new born would be mentally challenged. There are various reasons that could be held responsible for Craniosynostosis in infants which includes prolong use of SSRI drugs during the pregnancy and some genetic disorders like Pfeiffer syndrome, Crouzon, Chotzen and many others.

Some of the signs and symptoms of Craniosynostosis includes:

  • misshapen head,
  • developmental delays
  • seizures, and blindness

What is SSRIs?

SSRIs are also known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor is a class of compounds typically used as antidepressant to treat condition like anxiety, depression and some obsessive compulsive disorders. SSRIs are believed to increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor. They have varying degrees of selectivity for the other monoamine transporters, with pure SSRIs having only weak affinity for the noradrenaline and dopamine transporter.

Major Types of Craniosynostosis are:

  • sagittal synostosis
  • metopic synostosis
  • lambdoid synostosis
  • coronal craniosynostosis

The general symptoms of craniosynostosis are as follows:

  • Skull shape is distorted
  • Baby’s head grows at slower rate than body, or not at all
  • Fontanel (soft spot) feels strange on infant’s skull
  • Fontanel disappears earlier than normal
  • Hard ridge forms along suture (which one depends on which type of craniosynostosis)

Some of the causes of craniosynostosis are:

Asides the above mentioned reasons genetic structure of the individual also play a key role in the disease.  There are a number of genetic mutations that can cause craniosynostoisis.

Examples of the genes that can mutate and cause craniosynostosis are:

  • TWIST
  • FGFR1
  • FGFR2
  • FGFR3