Study focuses on effects of antidepressant use during pregnancy

A new research study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows a link between women who take antidepressants during pregnancy and babies delivered with reduced head size. It also showed these same women were twice as likely to experience a preterm birth as compared to those who did not take antidepressant medications. The study took place in the Netherlands and included almost 8,000 pregnant women who were asked once each trimester about their symptoms of depression and use of antidepressants.

The study found that both using antidepressants and having untreated depression in pregnant women could lead to added risks for their babies. Those women in the study, who took antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Zoloft, had an increased risk of having babies with reduced head size. The women with untreated depression; however were more likely to deliver babies with smaller body size and reduced fetal head growth.

Although the long-term risks associated with reduced head-size at birth are not entirely clear, prior studies have shown a link to this condition and behavioral and psychiatric problems for the children later in life.

This new study adds more data to the debate surrounding the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy and the risks these medications may add to not only the health of the mother but that of her baby as well. Reports indicate that around 8 percent of women in the United States take antidepressants during their pregnancy.

A previous post titled Depression Medications May Increase Risks of Birth Defects reported in a five-country study that antidepressants or SSRIs, including common brands names such as Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Paxil, were also shown to be linked to higher risks for other birth defects in infants also.

Advancements in medical science has improved our overall health and life expectancy, however there are inherent risks when new drugs are introduced and lengthy or comprehensive studies have not yet been done. There have been numerous cases of birth injuries and birth defects that have been linked to certain drugs and vaccinations. If you or a family member has been harmed by defective drugs you may have legal recourse to recover damages in the form of a personal injury lawsuit under your states product liability statutes.

Source: Time, "The Pros and Cons of Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy," Maia Szalavitz, Mar. 6, 2012

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