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Antidepressants in Pregnancy May Delay Developmental Milestones
Date:2/23/2010

nancy," Ashton said. "Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you may not have a choice. If the mother is depressed or suicidal to the point of hurting herself, she needs treatment."

About 904 women in the study were depressed; of those, 415 women took antidepressants. Most took serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft and Lustral), citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil). Some took an older class of drugs, tricyclic antidepressants or other types of antidepressants, including venlafaxine (Effexor). Some took more than one.

While the study isn't the first to show that antidepressants may impact fetal development, it is among the first to look at the child's development after birth, Ashton said.

A 2009 study in the British Medical Journal, also by the Danish researchers, found women who take certain antidepressants during the first three months of pregnancy were at a slightly increased risk of giving birth to babies with septal heart defects, or malformations in the wall separating the right side of the heart from the left. The risks were seen in sertraline and in citalopram.

Other research, however, about the risks of congenital abnormalities has been inconclusive.

So what should women do?

Discontinuing antidepressants is an option, but it has risks, especially if the mother's depression is severe, said David Blackburn, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas.

Untreated depression may lead women to miss prenatal appointments, eat poorly -- either too much or too little -- and sleep poorly. Some people who are depressed also become socially isolated, or self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Depression is also a risk for suicide or other self-destructive behaviors.

"Whether women continue with antidepressants has to be decided on an
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