Posted by Claudia Grazioso on March 23, 2012
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, infant omphalocele, cleft palate, clubfoot, cardiac defects, craniosynostosis — these are all birth defects that seem to have a link to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft. But there are other complications of prenatal exposure to SSRIs that expectant mothers should be aware of. If you take SSRI drugs during pregnancy, your child might experience withdrawal symptoms that could require hospitalization. And you are also more likely to give birth prematurely.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that women who take SSRI drugs to treat depression throughout their pregnancy have a significantly higher rate of delivering a child prematurely. In fact, out of the women studied, moms who took the drugs for the duration of their pregnancy had a 20 percent higher risk of having a preemie.
But here’s the kicker: The study also found that women who suffered major untreated depression throughout their pregnancy also had much higher rates of premature births — also roughly 20 percent higher than the normal rate.
So what can a mom who suffers from depression do during her pregnancy? There are several approaches to treating depression that don’t involve drugs. For example, some studies have found that just moderate exercise can have effects similar to medication. You can also try talk therapy, hypnotherapy or just spending more social time with friends. But if none of that works, perhaps talk to your doctor about a low dose medication, and discuss whether in your case the benefits of taking medication outweigh the risks.
As we all know, babies born prematurely need special care. Their young systems aren’t as strong as they could be, and these infants frequently have underdeveloped lungs, immune systems and digestive systems. The good news is that with advances in medicine, they can be cared for in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until they are ready to grow and thrive on their own.