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Study links antidepressants to birth problems

A study reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that babies born to expectant mothers using antidepressants are more likely to be born early or have a seizure soon after birth.

According to a report in Reuters, researchers looked at nearly 229,000 infants born to Tennessee women. They found that those whose mothers used antidepressants during their second trimester tended to be born earlier.

Researchers also found that newborns were more likely to have a seizure if their mother used a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) during the third trimester. SSRIs include commonly used antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.

Previous studies have linked SSRIs to dangerous birth defects including malformations of the heart and lungs.

The Reuters report said the findings are based on 228,876 Tennessee women who gave birth between 1995 and 2007. All were on Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor.

Of the women studied, 23,280 had been on an antidepressant before pregnancy. And 75 percent stopped taking the drugs before their second trimester. Women who were still on antidepressants during the second trimester tended to go into labor earlier.

For each prescription a woman filled during that trimester, her odds of going into labor early doubled. Almost 27 percent of women in the study group went into early labor, and the rate of preterm delivery was just under 14 percent.

Among women who were on an SSRI during their third trimester, the risk of a newborn seizure rose as the number of filled prescriptions went up. Mothers who filled three SSRI prescriptions in the last trimester were five times more likely to have a newborn who suffered a seizure, versus women not on the drugs.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.

See more information on the study here:

http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2812%2900425-5/abstract