Research shows benefits and risks to taking antidepressants during pregnancy

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Some women with depression who become pregnant face a troubling decision: whether to continue taking antidepressant medication to keep the depression at bay even though the medications may harm the fetus.”

Now, a study published online “in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows benefits and risks to continuing medication during pregnancy and concludes that more study is needed on the topic.”

Investigators “studied 7,696 pregnant women, which included 570 women with depression who were not on medication and 99 women with depression who were being treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a common class of antidepressants.”

The study found that “pregnant women taking certain antidepressants may be more likely to deliver infants with reduced head growth,” HealthDay reports. In addition, the investigators found that SSRIs “appeared to be associated with a higher risk of preterm birth.”

The study authors pointed out that smaller head growth “suggests that imbalance in the brain’s serotonin — a chemical that helps the brain send signals from one area to another – Is not good for infants’ developing brains.”

What’s more, “fetal head circumference may be an indicator of brain weight, and small head size in infants from birth to four weeks of age may be predictive of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders, the researchers noted.”

MedPage Today points out, “Untreated maternal depression was associated with delayed fetal head growth – though not as much as for mothers taking SSRIs – and delayed fetal body growth.”

This “dilemma arising from the retrospective cohort study left the authors with no simple answers.”

According to the study authors, “the scant clinical data on prenatal effects of SSRIs include evidence of nonsignificant delays in motor milestone development. Untreated depression during pregnancy also has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes and neonatal complications, the authors continued.”

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1 Response to Research shows benefits and risks to taking antidepressants during pregnancy

  1. melissa hammock says:

    Hi Walt.
    Hope all is well with you and Barb.
    Check out our website
    We are treating a pregnant woman now and she’s doing great.
    Keep up the good work. Miss you all.

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