Lexapro is a Class C pregnancy drug which means that it has not been tested on women who are pregnant and thus it is unknown precisely what effects it has on the fetus or the woman, or the baby once it’s born.
There have been studies done with animals that do show a detrimental effect on the fetus, but how this translates to humans is unknown.
Thus, if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, you will have to talk to your doctor and find out if Lexapro is still right for you or if you’ll have to be switched to another drug or if you’ll have to be weaned off altogether for a time.
The strength of the dosage you are taking may also have an impact on the likelihood of your baby contracting side effects from Lexapro; stronger doses will of course have a higher chance of giving you problems.
The main concerns with Lexapro lie in third trimester worries when the baby is developing more swiftly and is thus vulnerable to outside interference.
There have been cases of babies born to mother who took Lexapro after the twenty week mark of pregnancy having problems such as breathing difficulties, seizures, lower oxygen in the bloodstream, having trouble feeding, tremors, irritability, jitteriness, constant crying, and most worrying, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.
Women taking an SSRI such as Lexapro have six times more chance of having a baby with PPHN than women who aren’t taking one.
PPHN holds a great deal of complications for a baby and even death, so if you are on this drug, you will want to think seriously about switching and weaning off this drug, especially after twenty weeks, for the safety and wellbeing of your fetus.
It’s not known whether side effects are caused by the drug or by withdrawal from the drug when the baby is no longer being fed through the placenta; but either way it’s something to think about that might cause difficulties later on.
Lexapro is also believed to pass into breast milk as well, though again, the effects on the baby are unknown, if they exist at all.
However, if you are taking higher doses of Lexapro, you may wish to feed your baby formula instead to be safe. If nothing else, your baby will have to deal with withdrawal symptoms after you do the weaning, which will be uncomfortable for both parties.
If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, you should have a serious discussion with your doctor about continuing your prescription on Lexapro and whether you should be switched to something else.
Doctors will generally only allow you to continue taking Lexapro if the benefits outweigh the risks; i.e. if what Lexapro is treating is very serious and without it, you could be in far more danger (and so could your fetus).
However, if you can take an alternative or do an alternative, you should go for it as it may be safer for the baby and even for you.
There is no solid data on how Lexapro affects a baby, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and either stop taking it altogether or have your dosage changed to be safer.
In the end however, you should speak to your doctor about what to do about your depression or anxiety and see what they say about Lexapro and your baby.
Lexapro is most likely to affect your baby after the third trimester, so your doctor may recommend the switch after twenty weeks, not right from day one, if that is something that will work better.
The most important thing is your health throughout your pregnancy and while Lexapro may not hurt your baby and may help you, you should still speak to your doctor about the risks and possible alternatives during this time in your life.