Zoloft & Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension
Persistent fetal circulation or persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH) is a potentially life-threatening medical condition affecting the circulatory system and the blood vessels in the lungs, which gather oxygen and transport it throughout the body. Persistent pulmonary hypertension affects newborns and adults alike. This chronic circulatory condition is linked to genetic predispositions, heart and lung conditions, birth trauma and exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants while in the womb.
During pregnancies, infants receive oxygen from their mother through veins attached to the umbilical cord. When a baby takes its first breath, a complex series of biological changes take place. The infant stops receiving oxygen from the mother, and the baby's lungs take over. This first breath causes the fetal blood vessel or ductus arteriosus to close, which stabilizes blood pressure in the lungs. For a small number of infants with persistent pulmonary hypertension, the ductus arteriosus remains open and arteries that connect the heart and lungs are abnormally narrow. This elevates the pulmonary blood pressure, directs blood away from the lungs and reduces the body's capacity to efficiently expel carbon dioxide, absorb oxygen and distribute oxygenated blood through the body.
Scientists who study patients with persistent pulmonary hypertension or persistent pulmonary hypertension of newborns (PPHN) believe that damage to the cells lining small blood vessels in the lungs is the root cause of the condition. Injuries to these cells and the smooth muscles that control the way blood vessels expand and contract can be caused by infections, traumatic deliveries and birth asphyxia as well as exposure to antidepressants in the womb. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a rare condition that affects one in every 500 newborns. However, the number of affected infants is significantly higher in babies whose moms took antidepressants after the fifth month of their pregnancy. Commonly prescribed antidepressants linked to persistent pulmonary hypertension include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, combination drugs and other antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications that contain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Symptoms of PH and PPHN include shortness of breath, difficult breathing, grunting, wheezing, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and cyanosis, a physical manifestation of low oxygen levels that causes the skin, lips and fingernails to appear blue. To diagnose persistent pulmonary hypertension, doctors will listen to the heart for murmurs and abnormal sounds. Physicians may also suggest X-rays and medical imaging as well as blood-oxygen tests to confirm the condition and rule out other medical issues and contributing factors.
Methods for treating persistent pulmonary hypertension include breathing devices, oxygen delivery systems, lung transplants, blood thinners, diuretics and medications that cause the capillaries and blood vessels to swell. Medical monitoring and treatment is essential to stabilize the pulmonary blood pressure and lighten the workload placed upon the heart.
If you have a child or family member who has developed pulmonary hypertension (PH) or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), please complete our confidential information form to learn more about locating regional treatment centers and receiving critical medical care.