Anti-Depressants Raise Respiratory Risks in Newborns
Reported February 09, 2006
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — New research out of the University of California, San Diego reveals mothers who use common anti-depressants during pregnancy may be putting their offspring at risk for a serious respiratory disorder.
This baby study shows infants exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the womb are more likely to develop persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). While the increased risk is small — affecting only about 1 percent of women who take the drugs late in their pregnancies — the disease typically leads to severe respiratory failure, and thus, must be taken seriously.
So, should women forego these drugs while pregnant? Researchers stop short of making that recommendation, noting it’s important for women to receive proper care for depression during their pregnancies. “The prevalence of major depressive disorders among women of reproductive age is estimated to be between 10 and 15 percent,” they explain in the article. “SSRIs are among the most common medications used to treat these disorders, and continued treatment may be needed throughout pregnancy for the health of the mother.”
They do, however, believe their results should be considered when women and their doctors make decisions regarding treatment for depression. They also call for additional research on genetic and environmental factors to help pinpoint women at greatest risk of delivering an infant with PPHN as a result of using SSRIs during pregnancy.
The study was conducted in 97 hospitals in the United States and Canada and involved 377 infants who developed PPHN and 836 normal infants who served as controls. Taking SSRIs earlier in the pregnancy — before 20 weeks — didn’t appear to raise the risk of PPHN, nor did taking other types of anti-depressants.
SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, 2006;354:579-587