Posted by Deborah Pujoue on March 12, 2012
As if the birth defects risks associated with women taking SSRIs during pregnancy weren’t enough, a new study is suggesting that SSRIs also cause a baby’s head size to be smaller. This study was conducted by lead researcher Hanan El Marroun and his team and was published in the March 5 online edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study shows that antidepressant medications like Paxil, Prozac, Celexa and others taken during pregnancy present a risk of mothers giving birth to babies with a smaller head size. Since head size is linked to brain capacity or intelligence levels, some people are likely thinking that SSRIs may also lower the child’s IQ.
Marroun, who is a postdoctorate fellow in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Sophia Children’s Hospital and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, says, “Fetal body growth is a marker of fetal health and fetal head growth is a marker for brain development. We found prenatal exposure to SSRIs was associated with decreased growth of the head, but not decreased growth of the body.”
El Marroun went on to say, “If the depression is untreated, it affected the whole body; but if the mother used SSRIs, the head growth of the fetus was affected. This may mean that smaller head growth is not explained by depression, but by the SSRIs. We don’t know what this means for the long-term development of these children.”
It seems like every day some new study makes its way into the light that links SSRIs to developmental problems for babies, and yet doctors are still prescribing these dangerous medications to pregnant women. It seems very irresponsible to me that so many doctors are willing to ignore the very real complications associated with SSRIs (PPHN, oral clefts, cleft palates, neural tube defects and more) and try to give women a “quick fix” for their depression symptoms. With so many of these prescriptions being based on a “trial and error” effort to find the right med for each individual, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk.