Cymbalta during pregnancy
Cymbalta or duloxetine as known by its generic name is a Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI). This affects the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Pregnancy is one of the situations in which taking Cymbalta is proved to be unsafe both for the mother and the unborn baby. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has classified Cymbalta as a pregnancy category C medicine. This means that it can cause side effects to the fetus, as per the studies conducted in animals. When pregnant rats received Cymbalta, the baby rates were less in weight and they were less likely to survive. However, if the benefits out of Cymbalta outweigh the risks in your case, your doctor may still prescribe this medicine for you.
Cymbalta has the chemical substance duloxetine, which is a pregnancy category C drug implying that it is not safe for pregnant women. The Food and Drug Administration adopts a pregnancy category system for classifying the possible risks to the unborn baby when a particular medicine is given for treatment during pregnancy. Category C is given to the drugs which show side effects to the fetus in animals. However, no studies in pregnant women have been done. Still, a pregnancy category C medicine may be given to pregnant women if the doctor feels that benefits for the pregnant women on receiving Cymbalta outweigh the risks to the unborn babies.
In animal studies, they gave Cymbalta to rabbits during early pregnancy. In these cases it was observed that the baby rabbits weighed less. The babies of the rats which received Cymbalta during pregnancy and breastfeeding weighed less and they were unlikely to survive. Even though studies were not conducted in human, there are reports that new born babies of the mothers who were taking medicines similar to Cymbalta during pregnancy, were having problems. These problems ranged from minor severity such as irritability to serious problems such as lung problems or seizures.
We should also note one important point that depression in pregnant women would cause unhealthy effects in their babies. Therefore, Cymbalta can be given to pregnant women only if the benefits to the pregnant women outweigh the risks possible risks to the unborn babies. If women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are taking Cymbalta, they should let their healthcare providers know about it, so that they may advise these women if they can continue with their medication or the dosages are to be adjusted to suit them, after weighing the benefits and risks as discussed above. Last but not the least, do not discontinue Cymbalta without consulting your doctor. Pregnant women also should talk to their doctors before they decide to stop Cymbalta.
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study which stated that mothers taking SNRI such as Cymbalta during the second half of their pregnancy have the six times more risk of begetting a baby with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) or heart defects. The infants with PPHN suffer from narrowed blood vessels in the lungs. This prevents blood getting purified and carrying oxygen to the parts all over the body. The organs go into stress without oxygen and the baby struggles to survive. If it survives, it may have side effects including hearing loss, developmental disorders, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Babies with PPHN will have bluish skin. Babies exposed to Cymbalta during the gestation period suffer withdrawal symptoms including continuous crying, sleepiness and agitation. Cymbalta can also pass into breast milk, causing danger to the baby which is fed with that milk. Therefore pregnant women should be very cautious with Cymbalta before pregnancy and also during pregnancy.