Possible effects of taking antidepressants during pregnancy

Posted on 12 March 2012

Expecting parents have a lot to consider with a baby on the way, like what baby clothes to buy and what name to select. But, for pregnant mommies taking anti-depressants, determining whether or not to continue using the medicine can be a much more serious choice than deciding what color to paint the nursery.

A recent study conducted by Dr. Henning Tiemeier and his colleagues at a medical facility based in the Netherlands, showed that women who continued taking antidepressants throughout their pregnancy were more likely to deliver their babies with smaller heads. These expecting moms also had a 10 percent chance of prematurely going into labor. 

Six percent of women with with untreated depression went into labor early compared to the 5 percent of moms without this condition that prematurely gave birth, according to the findings, which were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

However, that information alone should not give expectant mommies reason to go off their medicine. That's because the study didn't prove that drugs, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), caused babies to have negative long-term effects.

Of the 8,000 pregnant women who participated in the study, unborn babies of depressed, untreated women gained less weight per week and showed smaller head growth than babies of non-depressed mothers.

However, the study did not conclude whether mothers taking SSRIs gave birth to children who would develop behavior or mental problems later in life.

Always remember that it is never a good idea to quit taking an antidepressant without talking to a doctor. The decision to go off medicine should be a joint decision, if possible, between both parents. And finally, keep in mind that knowledge is power. The more information you have, the better decision can be made for the baby.

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