Study Finds Antidepressants are Associated with Miscarriages

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Researchers at the University of Montreal and the CHU Ste-Justine has found that antidepressant use is common during pregnancy and women who take common antidepressants while pregnant increase their risk of a miscarriage by 68% a new study warns.

The most commonly used antidepressants were SSRIs. Among these, paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Effexor) were associated with a 51 percent increased risk of miscarriage, Berard said.

Its estimated depression occurs in up to 15 per cent of all pregnant women. Antidepressants are widely used in pregnancy, and up to 3.7 per cent of women will use them at some point during the first trimester, studies suggest.

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Researchers looked at data on 5124 women in Quebec from a large population-based cohort of pregnant women who had clinically verified miscarriages up to 20 weeks of gestation and a large sample of women from the same Registry who did not have a miscarriage. Of those who miscarried, 284 had taken antidepressants during pregnancy.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), especially Paxil and Effexor were associated with increased risk of miscarriage as were higher daily doses of either antidepressant. As well, a combination of different antidepressants doubled the risk of miscarriages.

"These results, which suggest an overall class effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are highly robust given the large number of users studied," writes senior author Dr. Anick Bérard, from the University of Montreal and the Director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine.

Berard says antidepressants should be used with caution during pregnancy. Given that half of all pregnancies are unplanned, she urged doctors who have patients of child-bearing age taking antidepressants, as well as those with pregnant patients needing antidepressant therapy to discuss the risks and benefits.

"Do not prescribe something and see the woman a month after. See her the week after. I think this study really highlights the need for lengthy physician-patient discussion on any medication during pregnancy -but most specifically antidepressants, because antidepressants have been having bad press for the last five, six years, yet today we are still seeing women who are on very risky treatments, very early on in pregnancy."

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