Antidepressants during pregnancy and birth defects

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The New England Journal of Medicine published today two research studies on the link between the use of antidepressants by the mother during pregnancy and the risk of the baby being born with birth defects.

Studies, conducted respectively by researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, suggest that the use of anti-depressant drugs from the family of SSRI-s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) during pregnancy did not increase the overall risk for birth defects significantly.

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However, both studies also concluded that individual anti-depressants, taken during pregnancy, may increase the risk for specific birth defects, but that these birth defects are different and each one is rare and that the risks are small.

The SSRI anti-depressant drug family includes common and "famous" names like Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. The effect of their use during pregnancy on the babies and the risks of birth defects associated to this use have been the topic of many studies, but previous research was less in favor of them.

After analyzing birth defects that were previously associated with SSRI use during pregnancy, the researches found that overall use of these anti-depressants does not significantly increase the risk of the babies having heart defects overall, with craniosynostosis (where connections between skull bones close prematurely),

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