Are antidepressants safe for expectant moms?

Are antidepressants safe for expectant moms?

Expectant mothers in Maryland and throughout the United States who take antidepressants during pregnancy could put their babies at risk for birth injuries or pre-term birth, or they even could suffer a miscarriage, said a newly issued report.

The report, published in the journal “Human Reproduction,” said women who take the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors put their babies at risk for birth defects. Mental health experts, however, disagree, saying the study fails to address the benefits of treating depressed women during pregnancy and also exaggerates the risks.

Additionally, the report only used data from studies that often have been questioned for both their size and methodology. Several of the studies were done on animals.

Still, one expert in obstetrics and gynecology who assisted in the report said the potential for trouble for pregnant women taking antidepressants is real. He cited risks that also included preterm birth, newborn behavioral syndrome and pulmonary hypertension in the baby.

The man said he did not put any stock in arguments that contend that depression in pregnancy can lead to things such as stillbirth. Those who believe that also continue to contend that since antidepressants treat the condition, it improves the chances for a successful pregnancy, which the expert disputes.

A co-author of the report said that perhaps antidepressant usage during pregnancy should be limited to women who have severe depression. Women with milder cases instead should pursue cognitive behavioral therapy, she said. Medication is not the answer for every woman, she said.

Another expert, however, said the report does not address the many risks that come when depression is left untreated, especially the potential for a woman to hurt herself.

According to some estimates, between 14 and 23 percent of pregnant women will suffer from a bout of depression. Given the disparity of opinions, however, a woman who wants to start treatment for depression should ask her obstetrician for opinions or recommendations about the topic. With a baby’s health at stake, taking or not taking antidepressants is not a subject to take lightly.

Source: Huffington Post, Antidepressants During Pregnancy Carry Risks, Study Says,” Catherine Pearson, Nov. 14, 2012

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