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1 year ago
Are Antidepressants Safe for Pregnant Women?

Good news for medicated moms-to-be: Taking a popular type of antidepressant during pregnancy does not increase the risk of newborn death, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This research, which was partly funded by the Swedish Pharmacy Company, used data from 1.6 million women in Nordic countries, including nearly 30,000 women who had filled a prescription for a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) while pregnant. Although women who took an SSRI did have higher rates of infant death than those who did not, researchers say it’s due to external factors and not the medication itself.

“We found higher rates of stillbirth and post-neonatal mortality among women exposed to SSRI,” says Olof Stephansson, MD, PhD, co-author of the study and a clinical epidemiologist with Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. “However when we took confounding factors such as maternal age and smoking into account as well as disease severity there was no risk associated with SSRI use and stillbirth and infant mortality,” he says.

SSRIs are used for depression and anxiety treatment. Although they have been associated with a small risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, they are relatively safe to use during pregnancy, says Stephansson. However, one specific SSRI, Paroxetin, has shown an increased risk in cardiac issues of the newborn and should not be taken while pregnant, he says.

Pregnant women should always discuss these types of medication with their doctors, of course, and they are advised to use the lowest dose possible required to treat depression, says Stephansson.

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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