Doctors will be warned against prescribing pregnant women antidepressants after link between the drugs and heart defects is discovered

Panorama interviews eight women who had taken antidepressants and all given birth to babies with major heart defects

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A Panorama programme due to be aired on Monday evening will broadcast evidence to suggest that common anti-depressants taken by pregnant women is associated with major heart defects found in newborn babies.

Professor Stephen Pilling, of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, has said that evidence suggests selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) when taken by pregnant women could double the risk of a child being born with a heart defect, the BBC have reported.

Panorama interviewed eight women who had taken a commonly used anti-depressant during pregnancy and all given birth to babies with serious heart defects.

The programme will broadcast an interview with Anna Wilson, whose son David spent the first five weeks of his life in hospital. A 20-week scan had shown that David had a heart defect and would need surgery immediately after being born. Anna had been taking the prescription drug Citalopram to treat her anxiety four years before her pregnancy began, and was told that she was safe to continue whilst pregnant.

The show will feature interviews with Prof Pilling, who will say that GP prescription guidelines are about to be updated to take into account evidence suggesting a link with SSRIs and heart defects.

Current prescription guidelines for doctors only warn against taking the SSRI paroxetine in early pregnancy.

The BBC said that a manufacturer contacted by them denies any link to major foetal malformations. 

Panorama: The Truth about Pills and Pregnancy is broadcast on BBC One tonight at 8.30pm.