Although doctors know that congenital heart defects arise from errors early in the heart's development, there is often no clear cause. Genetics and environmental factors probably play a role. Recent evidence indicates that taking antidepressants such as Paxil in the first trimester significantly increases the chance that a baby will develop Ventricular Septal Defects or other Congenital Heart Defects.
A ventricular septal defect occurs when the septum, the muscular wall separating the ventricles, fails to form fully during fetal development. This opening allows mixing of new (oxygenated) and used (deoxygenated) blood. As a result, blood overfills the lungs and overworks the heart. If not treated, the blood pressure in the lungs goes up (pulmonary hypertension) and the ventricles enlarge and no longer work efficiently. Ultimately, this can lead to irreversible damage to the lung arteries and to congestive heart failure.
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Diagnosis | Antidepressants & Birth Defects