Effexor XR and Pregnancy
A healthcare provider may prescribe Effexor XR to a pregnant woman if its benefits outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child. Effexor XR and pregnancy have not been tested together in humans, so the drug's possible effect on an unborn child is unknown. However, the drug did show side effects to the fetus in previous animal studies. Also, there have been reports of fetuses developing complications (such as difficulty breathing, seizures, and lack of oxygen in the blood) after being exposed to Effexor XR during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Effexor XR® (venlafaxine XR) is a pregnancy Category C medicine, meaning that it could potentially cause harm to your unborn child. This is especially true during the third trimester of pregnancy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans but show side effects to the fetus in animal studies. A pregnancy Category C medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that its benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.
There have been reports of fetuses developing complications after being exposed to Effexor XR, other SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) during the third trimester of pregnancy. Some of these complications required hospitalization, respiratory support, and/or tube feeding. Some of the symptoms that these newborns experienced include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of oxygen in the blood
- Feeding difficulties
- Constant crying.
Babies that are exposed to Effexor XR late during pregnancy are also at an increased risk of developing persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN is associated with significant complications and even death. Women who take Effexor XR after week 20 of pregnancy have a six-fold increase in the risk of delivering a baby with PPHN.