Antidepressants May Create Difficulty in Breast-Feeding
The researchers at the University of Cincinnati have discovered that SSRIs can result in delayed secretory activiation after giving birth. Some SSRIs may regulate the hormone serotonin in the body in an attempt to help depression, but the hormone are important to the breasts’ ability to deliver milk.
The body's production and regulation of the hormone serotonin is closely related to the ability of the breasts to secrete milk at the right time, said study co-author Nelson Horseman of the University of Cincinnati. "Our findings are good news in that all the women in our study who experienced this delayed lactation did ultimately lactate, and went on to successfully breast-feed their babies," Horseman said. "But these women were in a very supportive medical environment, where they had access to lactation consultants, the kind of support some women might not have."
Serotonin is a neurochemical that affects mood, emotion, sleep and appetite. In breast tissue, it "turns off" breast milk production when the breasts are full, Horseman said. "Delayed lactation is very common in the United States, but we don't really understand the reasons for it," he said. "This may end up being one of the few concrete explanations for at least some of the delayed lactation we see."
SSRIs antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression, which is linked to low levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain. The drugs enhance the effect of whatever serotonin is available in the brain.
The study’s findings may be troubling for some because millions of people take Prozac, Paxil, and other brands of SSRIs to treat a variety of depression-related disorders. Paxil and other SSRI drugs have been linked before to other serious health complications, including heart-related birth defects and pre-term labor.
Women who have problems lactating are less likely to breast-feed their children, but breast milk is considered the best and safest option for babies, and the World Health Organization recommends infants be given breast milk exclusively for the first six months.
"SSRI drugs are very helpful medications for many moms, so understanding and ameliorating difficulties moms experience can help them achieve their goals for breastfeeding their babies," Horseman said in a statement. "More human research is needed before we can make specific recommendations regarding SSRI use during breastfeeding."