SSRIs linked to late premature birth
Medications can have detrimental effects on developing fetuses, but since the popular new line of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were so new, there were no studies to show what the effects would be on babies who were exposed in utero. The general consensus at the time was that an unmedicated, depressed mother was more dangerous to her baby than the potential danger the drugs posed to developing fetuses.
This false sense of security led women to believe that no harm would come to their babies. Recent studies show that using SSRIs during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for both the mother and her unborn child, including serious birth defects of the neural tube, heart, and lungs.
Children born to mothers who used SSRIs while pregnant are also more likely to have developmental delays, learning disabilities and autism. Another study found that pregnant women who took SSRIs were at greater risk for developing high blood pressure, which could lead to pre-eclampsia, a condition that is life threatening to both the mother and her unborn child.
Now, a new study published last month in the journal Epidemiology shows that women who take SSRIs during pregnancy are more likely to experience late preterm birth – between 34 and 37 weeks gestation. Normal gestation for babies is between 38 and 40 weeks. Premature birth can cause serious and often life threatening problems for newborns. The study also noted that depressed women were not more likely to have a premature baby than women who were not depressed.
“Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that SRIs during pregnancy may increase a woman’s risk of early delivery,” the researchers wrote. “In assessing the implications of this risk for clinical practice, care must be taken to balance the health implications for the mother with those for the fetus.”