A new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending women to talk with their doctors about the risk and benefits of antidepressants before and during their pregnancy. They found that some 15 percent of women of reproductive age had an antidepressant prescription in the last year, which raises concerns about possible rare birth defects associated with some of these medications. Another concern was that women taking this medication might not realize they’re pregnant during the first few weeks, which is a critical time for the baby’s development. The report recommends that women of reproductive age who are either taking, or considering taking antidepressants talk to their doctor about the best treatment options, ideally before they become pregnant. “We understand that many women need to take antidepressants to appropriately manage their health condition, and women shouldn’t stop or change their routine without talking with their health care provider,” said Jennifer N. Lind, epidemiologist in the CDC’s Birth Defects Branch and co-author of the report.
A 2015 study found that many of the most-used SSRI antidepressant medications, including Zoloft (sertraline), was not associated with birth defects, while the use of some — such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine) during early pregnancy was associated with tiny increases in the risk of babies being born with heart and neurological defects. Nevertheless, experts stress the need for additional research and have cautioned that there are several studies that have found these medications are safe. “We are at a point where we have truly vast amounts of data from multiple sources regarding the safety of SSRIs, and I don’t think we have data suggesting that one SSRI is more or less safe than another SSRI,” Dr. Lee S. Cohen, director of the Center for Women’s Mental Health at Massachusetts General Hospital told CNN. “So at the end of the day, and in our center, if a woman decides to take an antidepressant during pregnancy, she typically stays on the one that got her well because nothing trumps keeping pregnant women well during pregnancy.”
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