A new study conducted by American and Canadian researchers has found that certain antidepressants may cause birth defects if they’re being taken by women in the early stages of pregnancy. It is important to note, however, that the risk is a really small one.
Health experts stress that a woman’s mental health needs have to be taken into consideration as well, and that they may prove to be outweigh the low birth defect risk that said antidepressants may pose.
While several other previous studies have researched whether or not it is safe for pregnant women to take antidepressant which contain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), especially during their first trimester, but until now the results have been inconclusive.
Dr. Jan Friedman, study author and professor with an expertise in medical genetics from the University of British Columbia, gave a statement saying that “We talk a lot about the fact that there are all these studies and they don’t agree. The fact is they do agree, in the big picture”.
The new study, published this week, on Thursday, in the journal BMJ, has successfully concluded that certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are indeed linked to an increased risk of birth defects. The researchers could not say whether or not the antidepressants are the direct cause of the birth defects, only that there is some connection between the two, but not a big enough one to pose a significant risk.
Dr. Friedman mentioned that none of the studies conducted on the subject have managed to prove that antidepressants with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in their formula are dangerous drugs. He went in to add that unlike thalidomide or alcohol syndrome, these drugs simply don’t pose that kind of risk.
For their study, the American and Canadian researchers looked at previously conducted studies as well as at a database maintained by the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – the U.S. National Birth Defects Prevention Study.
Said CDC database contains a list of roughly 18.000 women that gave birth to children who had some kind of birth defect, and roughly 10.000 women that gave birth to children who did not have any birth defects. All of the births took place somewhere between the years of 1997 and 2009.
The research team started by looking at the babies and trying to determine which of them had one of the 14 different types of birth defects that they were searching for. They then turned their attention to the mothers and searched to see if those who had given birth to children with birth defects were also on an antidepressants with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
While the birth defects were very rare, the experts did find that two (2) drugs known as Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine ) did indeed seem to be linked to an increased risk of birth defect when it came to the development of the heart of the features, of the stomach. On the other hand, Zoloft (sertraline) did not show any kind of a link whatsoever.
Dr. Friedman concluded that in his personal opinion is that some of risks which come with some of these drugs are most likely real, but that they are very small when talking in absolute terms. He also felt it was important to point out that the risks are different from drug to drug.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk