Women trying to conceive and those expecting have long known that antidepressants and pregnancy just don’t mix. But a new study of 30,000 women in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Findland and Iceland has found that the there isn’t a connection between antidepressants and stillbirths or infant death, the Journal of American Medical Association reported.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro have been linked to neonatal withdrawal symptoms, congenital abnormalities and lung problems in infants. But the connections between SSRIs and stillbirths or neonatal and posteneonatal death hadn’t been studied. Depression during pregnancy, present in 7 to 19 percent of pregnant women in developed countries, has been linked to pregnancy outcomes like preterm labor.
Researchers monitored singleton births between 1996 and 2007 and got information about prescriptions from patient registries. Just under 2 percent of women had been exposed to SSRIs during their pregnancy. Those women did experience slightly higher rates of stillbirth, neonatal or postnatal death. However, researchers explained, “The increased rates of stillbirth and postneonatal mortality among infants exposed to an SSRI during pregnancy were explained by the severity of the underlying maternal psychiatric disease and unfavorable distribution of maternal characteristics such as cigarette smoking and advanced maternal age.” This study suggests that SSRIs aren’t the only deciding factors in pregnancy outcomes; the severity of mental illness and other health factors are important as well. Researchers proposed that there’s still a lot of work to be done with mothers to help them make the right decision about their treatment during pregnancy.
Words: Desiree Browne, assistant editor