Effects of Antidepressants on an Unborn Child
Depression While Pregnant
Back in the day, it was widely believed that pregnancy protected a woman from depression, but research suggests otherwise. Numerous women have to make a tough decision between halting their antidepressant intake while pregnant, or choosing to continue taking medication and possibly putting the unborn baby at risk. The truth of the matter is that the research conducted thus far has not been able to conclude with surety that all antidepressants are harmful for the unborn baby’s health. While some research may pinpoint certain antidepressants to be more harmful than others, other independent research might have different findings about the same medication.
What we do know is that the effects of antidepressants vary depending on when they are taken in the pregnancy and also on what type of antidepressant is taken. Choosing to stop or continue with antidepressants is a decision that you must take only after consulting your gynecologist and psychiatrist.
Effects of Antidepressants: The Risks
Concrete results may be unavailable, but some possible risks associated with antidepressant intake include the following:
- Possible miscarriage.
- Possible heart defects.
- Birth defects.
- PPHN: Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension when the baby is born
- Health issues in the womb which include breathing difficulty, feeding difficulty, hypoglycemia and irritability.
- Low birth weight (below 5 pounds and 8 ounces) or preterm birth (before 37 weeks)
Research results also suggest that the effects of antidepressants must be considered in perspective: A depressed pregnant woman can put her unborn baby’s health, and her own health, at much greater risk if she stops taking antidepressants to control her symptoms. She may resort to smoking, alcohol consumption, poor eating habits, taking drugs and missing doctor’s appointments. All these actions increase the probability of low birth weight, preterm birth and miscarriage.
The Experts Opinion
Most psychiatrists and gynecologists believe that if a woman is suffering from mild depression or has not been exhibiting depression symptoms for the past 6 months, she can avail alternate forms of treatment for depression. These include exercising, yoga and meditation, talking to her therapist on a regular basis and reducing stress.
However, most doctors advocate that antidepressants may be the best option for those pregnant women who have been suicidal, suffered from other mental disorders or have recurrent depression. The decision to take or not to take antidepressants rests on a number of factors. Enlist the help of your health practitioners so that both you and your unborn baby can be happy and healthy in your 9 months of pregnancy, and after.
Pregnancy and antidepressants (Webmd.com)
Impact of antidepressants in pregnancy on unborn child (Healthyplace.com)