What To Expect If Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Although pregnant women today have an easier life, there still are issues that raise controversies among physicians and patients. Some of these controversial issues are whether or not pregnant women should take antidepressants and whether these drugs are safe during the pregnancy. A new study shows exactly what to expect if using antidepressants during pregnancy.

A study published this Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry is looking at an urgent and controversial issue. Basically, the study tried to see exactly how using antidepressants during pregnancy affects patients by listing both benefits and disadvantages. For the pregnant women that suffer from depression the study can offer an answer to their ever troubling question of whether continuing their antidepressant treatment or putting a stop to it.

The study undertaken by researchers in Netherlands investigated 7,696 pregnant women, out of which 570 had untreated depressive symptoms. 99 of them were taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression. The research found that depressed women on the SSRIs treatment were facing a higher likelihood of having babies with a reduced fetal head size but a normal fetal body growth. These women also were more likely to give birth preterm.

However, depressed women not on the SSRIs treatment were likely to give birth to babies with reduced head size. The matter at hand, although not fully elucidated by the present study, is linked with later behavioral and even psychiatric problems, as other research has showed.

Hanan El Marroun, researcher with Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands and study author, explained that the findings will “raise the question whether maternal SSRI treatment during pregnancy is better or worse for the fetus than untreated maternal depression”.

Given the results, the authors of the research pointed out that “we must be careful not to infer an association of SSRI use in pregnancy with future developmental problems” . However, they recommend that “clinicians must carefully weigh the known risks of untreated depression during pregnancy and the possible adverse effects of SSRIs”.

In the end, the study concluded that without further research, “prescribing antidepressant medication to pregnant women is a major controversy in current psychiatry” as the attempt to “balance the possible negative consequences of untreated maternal depression with the unknown potential negative consequences of SSRIs remains an open debate”.

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