Researchers are urging doctors to use extreme caution when prescribing a common class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to women who are attempting to become pregnant or during pregnancy. SSRIs – which include the brand names Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro and Celexa – may inhibit pregnancy in women undergoing fertility treatments, cause miscarriages and preterm births, and put developing fetuses at risk of birth defects.
The information comes from a review of published studies of women with depressive symptoms who took antidepressants while pregnant. The review was published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Researchers noted that as many as 11 percent of women undergoing fertility treatment take SSRI to treat symptoms of depression. However, the review’s author’s said, there is emerging evidence that SSRIs may decrease pregnancy rates for these women. Studies also showed that women using SSRIs were more likely to have a miscarriage than women who were not using SSRIs.
Previous studies have already shown that SSRI use during pregnancy was associated with a greater risk for birth defects including heart defects and a lung defect known as persistent pulmonary hypertension. Researchers also pointed out that SSRI use beyond the first trimester is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, a condition that is life threatening to both mother and her unborn child.
Studies also suggest that long-term exposure to SSRIs in utero seems to correspond to an increased incidence of low birth weight and increased rates of respiratory distress.
“There is enough evidence to strongly recommend that great caution be exercised before prescribing SSRI antidepressants to women who are pregnant or who are attempting to get pregnant, whether or not they are undergoing infertility treatment,” the authors concluded.
Source: Psych Central