Posted by Claudia Grazioso on April 29, 2011
Prozac was one of the first really popular antidepressants; one day no one had heard of it, the next it seemed that almost everyone and their pet was on it. It was hailed as — and in many ways was — a miracle. Prozac was one of the first drugs to say “you don’t have to feel as bad as you do.” It moved into everyday life easily. We had Prozac Nation, Listening To Prozac, even Prozac Diaries.
But what about “Prozac Pregnancy?”
Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is commonly prescribed to treat depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorders and sometimes even eating disorders. Like many SSRIs, it has been found to be helpful in the treatment of these illnesses; frequently, once people find a way to alleviate the challenging symptoms of these disorders, they are understandably reluctant to give it up. For a long time, pregnant women were told there was no need to stop taking their SSRI drugs during pregnancy. Recently, the FDA notified healthcare professionals that the pregnancy section on the labels for most anti-psychotic drugs had changed. Now the information about whether it’s safe to take SSRIs during pregnancy is in flux. At one time believed to be entirely safe, recent research is raising some questions about the safety of a developing fetus when exposed to very commonly-prescribed SSRIs.
Prozac, also known as Fluoxetine, can cause harm to a baby especially if it is taken during the last three months of pregnancy. Indeed, the third trimester seems to be the period when the most serious complications can result from taking most SSRIs. Infants exposed to Fluoxetine after the 20th week had higher rates of premature birth, higher rates of admission to special care nurseries like the NICU and higher rates of poor neonatal adaption, including breathing and feeding problems. Several studies also link fluoxetine taken during the third trimester to a higher risk for Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. PPHN is a serious condition that requires medical intervention immediately or it can be life-threatening. Additionally, some studies have shown that of babies who are exposed to SSRIs like Fluoxetine throughout pregnancy, up to 30 percent experience some kind of withdrawal symptom, or neonatal abstinence syndrome, that can include tremors, gastrointestinal problems, and hypertonicity. Because of all of the possible problems, some doctors feel that babies born to mothers who took SSRIs need to have extra supervision for the first 48 hours after birth.
For mothers who take Prozac, it is important to note that the majority pregnant women on Prozac still deliver healthy babies, and that as scary as PPHN is, it is still rare, even with the added risk of exposure to SSRI drugs. If you are taking Prozac and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks. You should also discuss whether or not you should breastfeed while taking Prozac. Some studies have shown that up to 10 percent of the mother’s dosage ends up in the breast milk. The American Pediatric Association has noted that though the effects of fluoxetine on a newborn are still unknown, it might be cause for concern. If you are on Prozac, you might want to consider bottle-feeding your baby until more studies have been completed.