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Anti-depressants may cause stillbirth

Women who take a particular type of antidepressant drug during pregnancy face the risk of a stillborn baby// , warns a study.

Canadian researchers at the University of Ottawa compared the health of babies born to 972 women taking SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) with that of babies born to mothers who did not use anti-depressants.

They found that women using the drugs were twice as likely to have a stillbirth. They were also almost twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby, reported the online edition of BBC News.

Babies born to women using SSRIs were also more likely to have seizures, the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology said.

SSRIs work by increasing levels of the mood chemical serotonin in the brain. Babies born to women using SSRIs were also more likely to have seizures, the researchers said.

"Left untreated, the physical and psychological effects of depression can lead to problems during pregnancy," said Charlotte Davies of Tommy's, the baby charity.

"Sufferers of depression are far more likely to smoke, as well as lose their appetites and in extreme cases are more likely to attempt suicide, which can all have devastating effects on mother and baby."

Whilst this study has found a correlation between SSRIs and pregnancy complications, it has in no way confirmed a clear causal effect between the two.

The researchers said women using these anti-depressants should be fully briefed about the potential risk by their physicians. Pregnant women could opt for other types of anti-depressant medication, they said.

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