Expectant mothers, if you’re taking an antidepressant it won’t make your newborn cranky or at higher risk for other problems, researchers report.
Northwestern University researchers divided 214 new moms into three groups: those with a mood disorder who were not using an antidepressant; those who were taking a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) antidepressant; and those without a mood disorder who were not on an antidepressant.
At two to four weeks after birth, babies in all three groups had similar rates of irritability, difficulty feeding, sleep disturbances and respiratory problems, the study found. The issues affected 3 out of 10 babies in each group.
Instead, preterm birth was the major risk factor for what is known as Neonatal Discontinuation Syndrome (NDS). Babies with NDS get agitated, restless, cry excessively and may be rigid or have tremors.
Many women fear that taking antidepressants during pregnancy will harm their fetus.
“Most pregnant women are naturally going to worry more about their baby’s health than their own, and might forego taking an antidepressant to avoid these neonatal signs,” study first author Amy Yang said in a university news release.
“But with the information form this study, they can be reassured that the baby’s behavior at two to four weeks after birth is not likely due to exposure to medication or depression,” she added. Yang is a biostatistician in Northwestern’s Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
This study does not prove that antidepressants during pregnancy are safe for the baby, it only suggests that maybe they cause no obvious side effects in newborns during the first month of life.
Recent studies have indicated that counseling is much more effective in the treatment of depression then medication. I can guarantee that counseling is safe during pregnancy.
I grew up with girls whose mothers had taken DES (diethylstilbestrol) during pregnancy to avoid miscarriage. The drug, the first synthetic form of estrogen, was on the market for 30 years before it was finally banned in 1971. It creates a host of health issues including vaginal cancer and infertility that didn’t show up until these babies were in their early twenties. Furthermore, DES was ineffective in preventing miscarriage.
The Bottom Line:
Just avoid taking medication during pregnancy. Antidepressants are effective about a third of the time, ineffective a third of the time and will increase depression about a third of the time. I guess that’s better than DES, but do you really want to risk your unborn child’s health with such small odds of success?
June 7, 2017 National Institutes of Health