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Antidepressants in Our Water

Richard A. Warner

A new study suggests that trace amounts of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) are endangering freshwater mussels. Around 70 percent of freshwater mussel species native to North America, which play a key role in the ecology of streams and rivers and are an important food source for several animals, are extinct, endangered, or declining (Science Daily, 2008).

Prozac is only one of many antidepressants and psychiatric Drugs and Pharmaceuticals that are showing up in measurable amounts in our water. In 2000, the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center discussed the presence of psychiatric (and other) drugs in our water in the article "Pharmaceuticals In Our Water Supplies." 

In 2003, CNN also reported that antidepressants in streams and rivers were affecting frogs and fish. In 2004, the UK's Observer also reported on Prozac in drinking water. 

On June 28, 2004, the FDA warned, "Neonates exposed to Effexor, other SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), late in the third trimester of pregnancy have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding."

Researchers at the University of Montreal have now reported that exposure to the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) "is associated with major congenital malformations and major cardiac malformations for only first trimester exposure above 25 mg/day." (The standard dose of paroxetine is 20 mg daily.) The study was published in advance of print by Wiley Interscience Journals on December 22, 2006.

RxPG News reports that Canadian researchers at the University of Ottawa have found that women taking SSRIs were twice as likely to have a stillbirth. They were also twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby. Babies born to women using SSRIs were also more likely to have seizures, according to the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

The question is raised: Could prenatal exposure to antidepressants through food and water be having currently unknown effects on the developing human fetus?

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