Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy: 3 Major Risks

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There is well-documented controversy concerning the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy. It can be confusing if you’re trying to determine if antidepressants are safe to take while you’re pregnant. There are some risks to taking these medicines while you’re carrying a baby in-utero.


Due to the hormonal changes you’ll experience, you may have a higher chance of maternal anxiety and depression. Here is some important information you need when it comes to antidepressants and pregnancy.


Will Your Baby Be Exposed to Depression or Anxiety?


Around 15% of pregnant women have some form of psychiatric condition. The risk of maternal depression is somewhat similar to the risk of depression a woman will experience during various phases in her life, even when she isn’t pregnant. In women who already have depression, the risk of having depression is higher if the woman is not permitted to take her medication while pregnant.


The risk of recurring depression is about 68% in the first trimester if a woman was already suffering from depression before becoming pregnant. It is also common for a woman to have anxiety while pregnant. About 28% of women have anxiety while they are expecting.


Not treating a pregnant woman who has a history of depression is a huge risk. Aside from the apparent risks of depression such as unhealthy or risky behavior and a higher likelihood of suicide, untreated mental illness is also connected to neonatal and childhood illnesses.


When a pregnant woman is not treated for depression, she is more likely to have a premature birth and her baby is likely to have a low birth weight. These women may have more severe postpartum depression and have a difficult time bonding with their babies.


Cardiac Issues and Pulmonary Hypertension


Here are three major risks that untreated depressed pregnant women may face.


Heart Defects


Studies show that there is a link between in-utero exposure to antidepressants and cardiac defects in infants. In many of these cases, the cardiac defects are congenital and some medical research indicates that there are higher rates of heart problems in babies of mothers who use SSRIs.




Recent studies explored whether the use of antidepressants in pregnancy can increase the risk of autism in babies. Research indicates that antidepressants expose fetuses to unnatural amounts of serotonin and this could lead to autism. Research data are conflicting in this regard since some of the results from several studies don’t correlate.


However, it is believed that the risk of autism is likely higher during the first trimester if the mother is taking antidepressants. Study authors assert that further study is necessary to completely confirm this.


Poor Neonatal Adaptation Syndrome


PNAS or Poor Neonatal Adaptation Syndrome is a condition that is directly related to antidepressant use during pregnancy. PNAS symptoms include inconsistent body temperature, respiratory issues, hypoglycemia, irritability, and seizures. Most cases of PNAS are mild in nature and don’t have long-term effects on the baby.


Some researchers assert that signs of PNAS are still evident one month after birth, but more studies are needed to confirm whether this is a common occurrence. The risk of PNAS is higher if a mother is using several antidepressants, especially if these medications are benzodiazepines.


It is always good to have a second opinion if you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant and using antidepressants. Be sure to speak with your doctor about antidepressants that are safe to use during pregnancy so you can feel your best and keep your unborn baby safe.


If you feel you’ve been prescribed a dangerous medication during pregnancy, it is always good to have a professional opinion. If you have had health issues or your baby has a health condition from the medication, be sure to speak to a lawyer right away.



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