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Fluoxetine: Prozac Affects Babies, Sexual Function, Report Says

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Why the pharmaceutical company and legislators are still defending fluotexine?


Prozac Affects Babies, Sexual Function, Report Says
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Tue Apr 27, 2004 05:18 PM ET
Source: Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the most popular antidepressants, best known by the brand name Prozac, can affect the development of babies when pregnant women take the drug, according to a government report released on Tuesday.

Normal doses can cause babies to be born lighter and sleepier than normal, or make them jittery or cause respiratory problems, the panel appointed by the National Toxicology Program said.

"These effects appear to result more readily from in utero exposure late in gestation," the report, issued for public comment, reads.

The report is a summary from a working group of experts who studied dozens of medical studies using the drug, known generically as fluoxetine.

"The observed toxicity may be reversible, although long-term follow-up studies have not been conducted to look for residual effects," it adds.
"The evidence suggests that developmental toxicity can also occur in the form of shortened gestational duration and reduced birth weight at term."

The experts also noted several reports that found fluoxetine could affect a patient's ability to achieve sexual climax -- both male and female.

It can get into breast milk and is found in the blood of newborns of mothers taking the drug.

The report, available on the Internet at http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/news/fluoxetine/fluoxetine_final.pdf,says fluoxetine is widely used and can now be found in the environment.

"Fluoxetine has been reported in U.S. surface waters, presumably derived from urine and feces of people on therapy," the report reads. One researcher found fluoxetine in bluegill fish.

"The presence of fluoxetine ... in wastewater/groundwater/sediment should be investigated," the report recommends.

But the report noted it could be more dangerous for an expectant or new mother to be seriously depressed.

"Mood disorders are common in women of child-bearing years and it has been estimated that 15.6 percent of women meet criteria for major depression during the third trimester of pregnancy," the report reads.

The panel also said more study was needed to find out how and why antidepressants such as fluoxetine can stimulate production of new brain cells. That could also affect a fetus or newborn baby in unexpected ways, they said.

Prozac is made by Eli Lilly and Co. and is also available in generic form.



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