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Antidepressants & Pregnancy

The birth of a child is often one of the most joyous events in a couple’s life. While nine months seems like a long time to wait, most expectant parents find the time goes fast, filled with activities such as planning the nursery, getting baby supplies and equipment, and attending doctor appointments. In addition to maintaining proper nutrition during pregnancy, it is important for pregnant women to realize the potential impacts taking certain medications can have, both before and during pregnancy. While the use of antidepressant medication is common, research shows that these medications have the potential to result in severe, life-threatening birth injuries for your unborn child.

Controversy Over the Use of Antidepressants During Pregnancy

According to a Scientific American report on antidepressant use, roughly ten percent of the population in the United States currently takes some form of antidepressant medication to treat not only depression, but other conditions, including anxiety, eating disorders, and fibromyalgia. While research indicates certain antidepressants show promise in treating a variety of disorders, they do pose dangers for people taking them, particularly for expectant mothers or those who are anticipating having children in the near future.

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, certain types of antidepressant medications have been shown to result in health problems in pregnant women, particularly for their unborn child.  Antidepressants that could result in safety concerns when used before and during pregnancy include the following:

Certain types of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including:

  • Paroxetine (Paxil);
  • Citalopram (Celexa);
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac);
  • Sertraline (Zoloft).

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including:

  • Phenelzine (Nardil);
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate).

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic advise that, in some cases, the benefits of taking certain antidepressants may outweigh the risks. Expectant mothers suffering from depression are less likely to get the prenatal care they need, while abruptly stopping these medicines could result in withdrawal symptoms, including increased irritability, nausea, and vomiting.

Potential Impacts Of Using Antidepressants Before or During Pregnancy

The latest studies conducted by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shed light on the dangers associated with SSRIs and other antidepressant medications. The study found that certain types of these medications were linked to the following defects in developing infants and newborns:

  • Heart defects;
  • Lung and respiratory system defects;
  • Birth defects in the baby’s brain or skull; and
  • Birth defects in the baby’s abdomen and abdominal walls.

While many of these defects were reported among women taking these medications early in pregnancy, taking certain antidepressants in the last trimester may cause problems as well. Always inform your obstetrician of any medicines or herbal supplements you may have taken prior to getting pregnant or early in your pregnancy, and check with your doctor before starting or stopping any prescription or over the counter medication.

Let Us Assist You Today

If you or someone you love has suffered complications during pregnancy or childbirth resulting in injuries to the mother or child, contact the Johnston Law Firm. Our experienced Portland birth injury attorneys can advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable for the damages you have suffered. While no amount of money could make up for the health of your child, we can assist you in getting compensation to pay for current and future medical expenses and costs you are likely to incur. Serving Portland and the surrounding areas, we can assist you; call or contact us online for a free consultation.



Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.