Antidepressants Use During Fertility Treatments Raise Concerns: Study

According to the findings of new research, the use of antidepressants among women who are having trouble becoming pregnant may pose a potential risk for themselves and their unborn babies, and there is no evidence of improved pregnancy outcomes.  

In a study published this week online by the medical journal Human Reproduction, researcher reviewed more than 100 other comprehensive studies involving a particular class of antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and their use in depressed infertile women.

Researchers found SSRIs such as, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and Celexa reduced the effectiveness of fertility treatments in depressed women trying to conceive. The SSRIs were also linked to other major side effects for the women and in their babies after conception.

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Pregnancy Complication Rates Increased with SSRI Use

Use of antidepressants among pregnant women was linked to a much higher rate of miscarriage, along with preterm labor, complications during pregnancy and may also cause neonatal issues and long-term neurobehavioral abnormalities in the babies.

SSRI use in depressed women was also found to increase the risk of health problems for the babies, such as newborn behavioral syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension and other long term neurobehavioral issues.

Other forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and physical exercise were found to help significantly decrease depressive symptoms in mild to moderately depressed pregnant women without the use of SSRIs.

While undergoing cognitive therapy in lieu of antidepressant use may seem preferable, experts urge pregnant women to see a doctor before undertaking any form of treatment to determine the level of depression the best possible treatment.

Antidepressant Use Linked to Birth Defect Risk

Other recent studies have questioned the efficacy of SSRI use in pregnant women, weighing the mounting evidence of severe side effects after use.

A study published in May in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found women who took antidepressants during pregnancy were more likely to conceive a child that suffered from seizures and experience preterm labor.

SSRI use during pregnancy has also been linked to an increased risk of birth defects and malformations, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), spina bifida, lung and heart defects, abdominal defects and cranial defects.

According to a study published on October 8, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, researchers found antidepressant use during pregnancy to also impact the language development of the baby, which can severely affect an infant’s developmental milestones, the ability to discriminate their own language and may lead to developmental delays.

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