Are you risking your baby's health by taking antidepressants?

One of my cousin's was diagnosed with depression several months before she found out she was pregnant with her third child. She had started taking antidepressants as soon as she was diagnosed and had been feeling much better, but once she found out she was pregnant, she didn't know what to do, worried about the consequences her medication could have on the fetus

Lots of women face the same dilemma and unfortunately, according to the latest study about this topic released Monday, the jury's still out in terms of the effects of antidepressants on both the fetus' and the mother's health.



The new research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry involved nearly 8,000 pregnant women in the Netherlands. The moms were asked about their depression symptoms and their use of antidepressants once per trimester. The results indicate that babies of moms who took antidepressants were born with smaller heads and were twice as likely to be born premature than those who were depressed, but taking no medication.

On the other hand, babies whose mothers were depressed, but who didn't take antidepressants were born with both smaller heads and reduced body size. A baby's head size is important because it has been tied to behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders later in life, according to the author's of the study. 

One major issue to consider is that being depressed during pregnancy and not treating it could be really dangerous because it's very possible that you might not have the energy (or the desire) to take care of yourself (and your baby). Or, worse, you might pick up unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and drugs. Plus, it puts you at a higher risk for postpartum depression after your baby's born.

So what to do? The best advice is for you to talk to your doctor so together you can make the best decision for you. That's what my cousin did and they both came to the conclusion that she needed to continue taking the antidepressants. The benefits outweighed the risks in her case. Luckily, both mother and child are in perfect health today. 

What do you think? Have you had to make a decision like this?

Image via karindalziel/flickr 

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