The Latest on Antidepressants and Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Suzanne Murray

Photo by AshBayGrammy

Last summer, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) for the first time published guidelines to help moms-to-be (and their doctors) determine if they should take antidepressants while pregnant.

The upshot was that for those who suffer from disabling depression, the benefits of antidepressants usually outweigh the possible risks to the fetus, but ACOG recommended that women who suffer from milder forms of depression be weaned from their meds and try psychotherapy.

Now, a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics (February 22, 2010) says that exposure to antidepressants in late pregnancy may affect children's developmental milestones.

Danish researchers analyzed data on children born to 415 women who used antidepressants while pregnant, 489 women who said they were depressed, but didn't use drugs, and 81,042 women who weren't depressed or taking antidepressants.

They found that the babies of women who took antidepressants in the second and/or third trimesters sat up and starting walking a few weeks to a month later than the children who weren't exposed to antidepressants in utero. These milestones were still achieved within the normal range of development.

They also found that exposure to antidepressants in the second or third trimesters was associated with a lower likelihood of sitting without support at age 6 months and self-occupation at age 19 months.

At follow-up evaluations, they found associations between exposure to antidepressants in late pregnancy and motor development, particularly for boys.

So what does it all mean? The results suggest that antidepressant exposure has an effect on fetal brain development. "The clinical and public health relevance of the results is not known," say the researchers. "Longer follow-up monitoring of the children is needed."

The bottom line: If you are taking medication for depression, talk to your doctor before you continue or stop taking antidepressants.

Related posts:

Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant: Is it Safe?

Treating Pregnancy Depression With Acupuncture

Depressed and Pregnant: Are You?

Depression Doubles Your Risk of Preterm Delivery


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