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Doctors must weigh risks for antidepressant use in pregnancy: Part 1

Reports suggest that at least six percent of pregnant women are taking antidepressants, and antidepressants have been shown to be a risk to the health of a developing child. The scientific community is currently in the midst of a debate over whether the risk that a child will be injured by antidepressant use outweighs the risk to the health of the expectant mother and baby if her depression remains untreated.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a study published recently in the Archives of General Psychiatry discusses the benefits and the risks involved in continuing the use of antidepressants during pregnancy.

The new study looked at pregnant women with depression; some that were on antidepressant medication and some that were not.

The women with depression who were not treated with medication had higher rates of babies with reduced fetal head size and reduced body growth. The women with depression who were on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) had higher rates of babies with reduced fetal head size but with normal fetal body growth.

Living with depression is difficult and may be even more difficult with hormonal changes during pregnancy. Researchers have found that pregnancy can make depression more difficult to cope with because emotional ranges run high.

It is extremely important to continue some sort of depression treatment during pregnancy. Problems with energy levels, healthy eating, prenatal care or drug or alcohol use may occur without treatment. Of course, no decision on whether to medically treat or not treat depression should be made without a doctor's input and care.

The next post will continue to discuss this complicated subject.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Study describes pros and cons of antidepressant use in pregnancy," Shari Roan, Mar. 5, 2012

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