Related Topics: Depression, Pregnancy

Miscarriage And Birth Defects Linked To Antidepressants

For a healthy conception and pregnancy, good levels of progesterone are essential, but beware of taking antidepressants during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects and miscarriage.

AnnA Rushton

Women who are trying to become pregnant, and those already pregnant, are well aware of the dangers of using drugs but this new study alerts a specific problem for women suffering from depression.

A new study published in the journal Human Reproduction was authored by Dr. Adam Urato, obstetrician and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., and Dr. Alice Domar, a psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

What it shows is that there is a drastically increased rates of birth defects in children who are exposed to SSRI drugs (antidepressants) while in the womb. There is a particular concern that the use of SSRIs doubles the risk of babies being born with autism.

Dr. Urato has warned that at least 40 studies now link SSRI use during pregnancy with premature births. The following abstract summarises his findings:

Antidepressant use during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, newborn behavioral syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and possible longer- term neurobehavioral effects.

This is a timely alert for all women with a history of depression to be cautious about what treatment they are getting as it is clear that antidepressants offer no benefit to pregnancy outcomes.

Natural options:

Progesterone is a natural mood enhancer and is recommended for women to help with fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage.  Women with a prior history of depression also benefit from progesterone supplementation immediately following giving birth.  This is when body’s progesterone levels plummet and supplementation can help to minimise the risk of post natal depression.

Natural help for depression will depend on the cause, but there can be benefit in the first place in seeking professional help from a therapist or psychotherapist.

Ensuring an adequate nutritional programme can also help and the vitamins essential for depression are B complex – B6 in particular –  and vitamin C.  Studies have linked depression with low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and a nutritionist will be able to help with a specific programme for pregnancy.

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