Few epidemiologic studies have investigated the use of venlafaxine (Effexor XR capsules, Product Monograph, Wyeth, Montreal, Canada), an antidepressant used to treat major depression and anxiety disorders in adults, during pregnancy. Our objective was to determine whether use of venlafaxine during pregnancy is associated with specific birth defects.
We used data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), a population-based, case-control study in the United States. Our analysis included mothers with pregnancies affected by one of 30 selected birth defects (cases) and babies without birth defects (controls) with estimated dates of delivery between 1997 and 2007. Exposure was any reported use of venlafaxine from 1 month preconception through the third month of pregnancy. We calculated adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% Fisher Exact confidence intervals (CIs) for 24 birth defect groups for which at least 400 case mothers were interviewed. Our adjusted analyses controlled for maternal age and race/ethnicity.
Among the 27,045 NBDPS participants who met inclusion criteria, 0.17% (14/8002) of control mothers and 0.40% (77/19,043) of case mothers reported any use of venlafaxine from 1 month preconception through the third month of pregnancy. Statistically significant associations were found for anencephaly, atrial septal defect (ASD) secundum, or ASD not otherwise specified, coarctation of the aorta, cleft palate, and gastroschisis.
Our data suggest associations between periconceptional use of venlafaxine and some birth defects. However, sample sizes were small, CIs were wide, and additional studies are needed to confirm these results. Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.