Antidepressants in pregnancy may up birth defects, stillbirths

Mothers-to-be, take note! Taking a specific type of antidepressant in early pregnancy may increase the risk of having babies with birth defects or stillbirths, scientists have warned. 

Researchers at Swansea University in the UK analysed data from more than 500,000 infants in Wales, Norway and Denmark.

They found that women who had been prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), in the first trimester of pregnancy were at a small but significantly greater risk of having infants with congenital anomalies, particularly severe heart defects or stillbirths compared with those who did not take SSRIs. 
The study found that where SSRIs were not prescribed, six in 200 pregnancies had an adverse outcome of stillbirth or a baby with a major congenital anomaly, but when SSRIs were prescribed this rose to seven in 200. 

SSRIs are prescribed to 5.5 per cent of pregnant women in Wales, 2.1 per cent in Denmark and 1.6 per cent in Norway, researchers said. 

"To our knowledge, this is the first dose-response analysis that shows the link between SSRI doses and congenital anomalies and stillbirths. While this extra risk may seem small, in my view, the outcomes are as serious as they can be, said Sue Jordan, of the College of Human and Health Sciences. 

"Women should not stop taking SSRIs without consulting their doctors, and we are not saying stop all medicines, but our message is that we want our health care professionals to be very mindful of this link and to take the appropriate action to ensure that women are given the right type of care before, during and after pregnancy to minimise the risks of congenital anomalies and stillbirths linked to SSRIs," said Jordan, who led the study. 

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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