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PREGNANCY AND ANTI-DEPRESSANTS

The BBC, reporting on a Danish study, warned that: “Children born to women taking anti-depressants in early pregnancy have a small but important increased risk of heart defects.” The report was based on 400,000 babies born between 1996 and 2003. The researchers concluded that septal heart defects are more common in children whose mothers were prescribed SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) in early pregnancy, particularly Sertraline and Citalopram. The greatest risk is associated with prescriptions of more than one type of SSRI.

In some cases, the benefits of anti-depressant treatment may be considered to outweigh the potential risks


The NHS Knowledge service gives a detailed breakdown of this study on its website and concludes that, given many other factors that may have influenced the study: “It is important to note that the absolute increase in the risk of a child being affected is small – i.e. less than 1%” and commented:

“In general, doctors try to avoid prescribing drugs for pregnant women in case there are effects on the baby. However, depression is a serious illness and, in some cases, the benefits of anti-depressant treatment may be considered to outweigh the potential risks.”

Useful links:
www.nhs.uk/news/2009/ then click antidepressants and pregnancy