New Study: Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant May Not Be As Risky As Previously Thought
In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory warning against the use of antidepressants late in pregnancy. These warnings presented pregnant mothers, also struggling with depression, with an unenviable choice – keep taking your medication and increase your newborn’s risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension, or risk your own mental health by going off the medication.
There may be hope yet. According to an article on CBSNews.com, a new study, conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, suggests that the risks are not as high as once thought.
According to the article:
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at 3.8 million pregnant women nationwide and found that those taking popular antidepressants, called SSRIs, did not appear to be at significantly increased risk of having a baby with pulmonary hypertension.
"The risk increase of taking antidepressants late in pregnancy, if present, is much more modest than previous studies have found," says Krista Huybrechts, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. "So for women with severe debilitating depression that is not responsive to other non-pharmacological treatments, this should be reassuring information."
It’s certainly reassuring news for Dr. Katherine Economy, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the Brigham who cares for many pregnant women on antidepressants.
"They take them because they have a disease that impacts their daily life," Economy says. "And for many women, they cannot get through their daily activities, getting out of bed, taking a shower, and preparing food for themselves. So for many of these women, these medications are life-saving and life-altering."
Dr. Economy warns patients about the potential risks like withdrawal in the newborn and a small risk of heart defects, but says for many women, the worst time to stop their medications is at the end of pregnancy when postpartum depression becomes a concern.
"My basic message is that, overall, there may be some slight risks associated with the medication, but in balancing risks and benefits for most women, I would suggest they stay on their medication," she said.
The decision to take any medication while pregnant, including antidepressants, should be made only after speaking with your physician. If you have questions about antidepressants, please visit any of our convenient locations to speak with an Owens pharmacist.