A new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows that women taking SSRI antidepressant medications like Paxil during pregnancy may develop high blood pressure. So far, however, the cause of that has not been established.

Pregnant women developing hypertension is sometimes associated with the condition pre-eclampsia, which is a serious condition that can cause damage to the women and their babies. However, the authors of the study are advising women not to discontinue taking the antidepressants like Paxil. This study showed a 60 percent increased risk of developing high blood pressure in the 1,216 women who were taking SSRIs. Paxil was particularly linked with this increase in high blood pressure, which the study showed increases the mother’s risk of hypertension by 81 percent.

“These results are an early indicator of risk attributable to antidepressant drug treatment above that which may be attributed to depression or anxiety disorders in the absence of drug treatment,” says senior researcher Dr. Anick Bérard, director of the research unit of medications and pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine’s Research Center, and professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Montreal.

The results of this study are significant considering that 20 percent of pregnant women are suffering from depression or anxiety and as much as 14 percent of those women are taking antidepressants like Paxil.

“Pregnancy-induced hypertension is a serious condition that can directly affect the mother and her unborn baby. Although a few other studies on the same topic have been performed before, our study is the only one that looks at the class and type of antidepressant and the risk of pregnancy induced hypertension,” says Bérard.

Antidepressants like Paxil are also known to cause birth defects in babies exposed to the drug in-utero. Some of those birth defects include PPHN, cleft palate and neural tube defects.