Almost every pregnant woman gets a list of medications that can be safely used during the pregnancy from her doctor. Even women who don’t get that list usually ask their doctor about the suitability of specific medications they take to ensure those medications are safe during pregnancy. Some women who are on antidepressants might have been told to continue taking their antidepressants during pregnancy. A new review of data collected about the use of these medications during pregnancy shows that they increase the risk of preterm birth.
According to the lead author of the findings published in PLOS ONE, the rate of antidepressant use of pregnant women has increased almost four-fold during the last two decades. That same time frame has also seen a rise in the rate of preterm births.
The findings were compiled by studying 41 papers, according to a senior author. He said the preterm births didn’t appear to be related to the mother’s depression, but rather to the medications.
The incidence of preterm birth seems to be the strongest when the antidepressant medications are taken during the third trimester of pregnancy. Because premature birth is the leading cause of infant death and has a high incidence of lasting medical challenges, it is important for doctors to balance a woman’s need to take antidepressants with the risk of the medications causing preterm birth. For some women, nondrug treatments might be sufficient during pregnancy.
Ensuring that a woman can have as healthy of a baby as possible is one of the goals of obstetricians. It is important for these professionals to explain the risk of antidepressants so that pregnant women are aware of what may happen. Doctors who fail to consider this connection might be guilty of medical malpractice. Any woman who feels that her ability to have a healthy baby has been hindered by a medical professional might have the right to seek compensation for damages.
Source: PsychCentral, “Antidepressants During Pregnancy Tied to Preterm Birth” Rick Nauert, Mar. 28, 2014