Today two families from Kamloops in British Columbia are mourning the deaths of their newborns. The families have little in common other than that they believe that Effexor may have killed those babies. To at least one researcher from the University of British Columbia, that is not a surprise.

With the amount of research that has linked SSRI medications like Effexor and Paxil to birth defects in babies born to mothers who took the drugs while pregnant, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dr. Barbara Mintzes, assistant professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology and therapeutics at the university, has been studying the risks of pregnant women taking antidepressants has said that the data she collected should worry the public because she said that there is evidence of women suffering from more miscarriages when they take antidepressants.

Mintzes has also said that some studies have shown that exposing pregnant women to the drugs can increase the risk of babies suffering from the sometimes fatal condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

PPHN is what one of the families is convinced caused the death of their newborn son. The child’s mother took Effexor while she was pregnant. A spokeswoman for Pfizer, Maureen McConnell, says that the study that was used by Health Canada did not link SSRIs or other antidepressants to a higher risks of PPHN. She also said, “The product monograph and label information distributed with the product addresses the use of Effexor in pregnant women, including that the safety of venlafaxine, has not been established in pregnant women and that venlafaxine must only be administered to pregnant women if the expected benefits outweigh the possible risks.”

However, both the first and second family, whose child also died (at 2 months old) after the mother took Effexor while pregnant, claim that they weren’t warned about the risks associated with Effexor toward babies. Both of the mothers made the mistake of trusting their doctors completely — and their babies paid the price.