"The concern with pregnant women with depression, if you take them off their medication, they can have a relapse into severe depression and this could lead to self-destructive behaviors," Wu said.
Previous studies have found that pregnant women who stopped taking their antidepressant medications were five times more likely to relapse than women who continued with the medication.
In the United States, 13 percent of women have taken an antidepressant while pregnant, according to an accompanying editorial.
Recent research has indicated a higher risk of various defects, including heart defects, among pregnant women taking antidepressants, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have issued warnings about possible birth defects associated with the use of the SSRI Paxil (paroxetine) by moms-to-be.
But existing studies have yielded conflicting results about dangers associated with specific drugs.
These researchers looked at almost 500,000 children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2003, a time when the number of pregnant women taking antidepressants quadrupled.
Although no overall association was found in this study between mothers taking SSRIs during the first trimester and birth defects in general, there was a doubling in the risk for septal heart defects for women using Zoloft and Celexa, but not Prozac (fluoxetine) or Paxil.
Pedersen recommended more and larger studies to explore the matter.
In August, the American Psychiatric Association in collaboration with ACOG recommended that women with major depression who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant can start or continue with antidepressant drugs, while women who choose to stop taking the drugs should consider psychotherapy.
"Ideally, you'd want to work closely with a psychiatrist and ob/gyn when planning a pregnancy," Wu said.
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