Posted by Claudia Grazioso on April 8, 2011
Expectant mothers have so many options to weigh, and so many choices to make about what is best for their child. And there never seem to be any easy answers. For women who battle depression or anxiety, that is especially the case. Since many anti-depressant drugs have only been tested on developing animal fetuses, there is a lot we don’t know about their effects on developing human fetuses. Still, there is some information out there and, as they say, knowledge is power. Hopefully you can learn enough to be able to make the decision that is best for you.
Pristiq is a drug that is used to treat significant depressive disorders. Similar to Selective Seronotin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro, Pristiq (also known as desvenlafaxine) is a Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI). Doctors frequently prescribe it for depression. And like SSRI pharmaceuticals, Pristiq has been labeled a Category C Drug, meaning clinical studies have been done on pregnant animals, but not on pregnant humans. In animal based studies, it has been found to damage developing fetuses. Still, since no extensive studies on Pristiq’s effects on human fetal development have been done, it is not considered an absolute “no-no” for pregnant women.
Does that mean it’s safe? It’s best to discuss that in-depth with your doctor. But here are some things that you should know about Pristiq:
Infants who were exposed to Pristiq late in the third trimester of pregnancy have been born with serious complications. Some of them require intense medical care like respiratory assistance and feeding tubes. Additionally, there are several other medical issues that have been observed in infants whose mothers took desvenlafaxine in the third trimester. These include apnea, cyanosis, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulties, hypoglycemia, hypo- and hypertonia (lack of muscle tone or increased muscle tone, both of which can mean problems with motor development), hyperreflexia (twitching or spastic tendencies), tremors and constant or excessive crying. Since these problems seem to be associated with taking desvenlafaxine late in pregnancy, some doctors might recommend weaning off of the drug or lowering your dose as your pregnancy progresses.
Though the jury is still out on whether it’s safe to breastfeed while taking Pristiq, studies have shown that venlafaxine (a close cousin to desvenlafaxine) has shown up in breast milk in rather large quantities. It is recommended that if you are taking Pristiq while breastfeeding, you watch your child for signs of excessive sedation or sleepiness and make sure he or she is gaining weight properly. And if you want one less thing to worry about, you might want to reconsider whether nursing is the best choice for you while taking Pristiq.