Antidepressants Linked to Newborn Lung Issues

antidepressantsNew research suggests that there may be a slight risk of breathing difficulties among babies of women who take antidepressants in late pregnancy.[1] Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto said that her team found that taking antidepressants during pregnancy may need a little extra attention.1 Many factors may outweigh this risk.1

“One potential adverse effect to be considered may be persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) of the newborn, ” the researchers write. “This condition is relatively rare but causes high blood pressure in the lungs and can lead to low oxygen levels. It can also be more severe if it occurs alongside other conditions.”1

The team examined the risk by analyzing seven previous studies.1

“Exposure to SSRIs in early pregnancy was not associated with PPHN of the newborn, ” they report. “But exposure in late pregnancy was linked to more than double the normal risk. This equates to one extra case for every 286 to 351 women taking SSRIs in late pregnancy. It was not possible to see how the risk was altered by cesarean section, body mass index, or preterm delivery.”1

They conclude, “The risk of PPHN of the newborn seems to be increased for infants exposed to SSRIs in late pregnancy, independent of the potential moderator variables examined. Clinically, the absolute risk of PPHN of the newborn remained low even in the context of late exposure to SSRIs.”1

Although the risk is low, the researchers state that pregnant women with depression should be counseled about the small risk of the lung condition, as it can usually be managed successfully that way in certain situations.1 Also, being aware of the symptoms of PPHN is important, as they can vary in severity.1 The researchers add that the decisions about treatment for depression during pregnancy must take into account the potential risks to both the mother and the unborn baby.1

“Depression during pregnancy must not be left untreated, as the potential for untoward effects is not negligible and can extend into the postpartum period.”1

Suicide is no less common during pregnancy than at other times, and may even be the leading cause of death among pregnant women in the UK.1

“It is imperative that the mother’s health be weighed heavily in treatment decisions,” the researchers wrote. “It is now necessary for research to be carried out to see whether other classes of antidepressants have a similar association, as well as the impact of cesarean section, obesity, and preterm delivery.”1

[1] Collingwood, J. (2014). Antidepressant Link to Newborn Lung Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/18/antidepressant-link-to-newborn-lung-risk/71367.html

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