Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to preterm births
According to a new study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the use of antidepressants during pregnancy is associated with lower fetal age and an increased risk of preterm birth . Researchers found that depression alone, without use of antidepressants, did not adversely impact the pregnancy, which may come as a surprise to many.
Researchers from the University of California evaluated the pregnancies of 90 women, who were divided into three groups. The average fetal age at birth, rate of preterm birth and number of babies admitted special care nurseries were then evaluated.
GROUP A: Women with major depression which was treated with antidepressants for over half of the pregnancy:
- Avg. fetal age at birth 38.5
- Preterm birth rate 14.3%
- Special care nursery 21%
GROUP B: Women with major depression who did not take an antidepressant during the pregnancy or only briefly used one of the drugs:
- Avg. fetal age at birth 39.4
- Preterm birth rate 0%
- Special care nursery 9%
GROUP C: Healthy pregnancy women without significant depression:
- Avg. fetal age at birth 39.7
- Preterm birth rate 5.3%
- Special care nursery 0%
Although the study only involves a small group of women, researchers were surprised to find that the presence of depression and anxiety did not increase the risk of preterm birth or significantly effect fetal age at birth. Depression during pregnancy is always a major concern, as it has been associated with low maternal weight gain, and increased frequency of cigarettes, alcohol or drug use. In addition, untreated depression could lead to injury for expectant mother, which is not accounted for in this study.
Many doctors and expecting mothers elect to use antidepressants, such as Paxil, Prosac and Zoloft, after weighing the risks against the benefits of treatment. However, many women have not been provided with complete information by the drug manufacturers about the risks associated with antidepressants, which could include a serious respiratory disorder known as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN) or birth defects, such as abnormal skull development, gastrointestinal abnormalities and brain defects.
Antidepressant lawsuits are being reviewed nationwide for children who have been diagnosed with PPHN or a birth defect after use of antidepressants during pregnancy. If your child or family member has suffered an injury, request a free consultation.