Study Posits That Popping Antidepressants During Pregnancy Won’t Result In Teenie Tiny Stunted Babies

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pregnancy and antidepressantsOn the always controversial topic of pregnancy and antidepressants, an admittedly very small study gives mothers suffering from depression a reason to perhaps lay off the guilt. Prioritizing your mental health with antidepressants, should you choose to, may have virtually no impact on your baby’s growth. So you might be able to check that off your list of concerns. Might.

Reuters reports that a study of 164 pregnant women (31 with depression but not on medication, 36 with depression and on antidepressants, and 97 healthy women) discerned that there was “no size differences in the first year of life between babies exposed and not exposed to the drugs.”

Doctors have reportedly had good reason to think otherwise in the past:

The medications, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which include fluoxetine (marketed as Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa), have been tied to premature births and lower birth weight. But their affect on growth during infancy had not been studied.

Dr. Katherine Wisner, who lead the study, describes the findings as “reassuring.” But for the mothers out there who are struggling with depression and trying to assess their choices, I think “huge ass relief” is in order.

Consider also that, according to Dr. Wisner, untreated depression does not influence infant growth. All of a sudden, the framing could very quickly backslide into the biggest pregnancy guilt trip ever. “Baby’s most rapid growth happens in the first year,” according to Reuters, so, no pressure anything.

Overall, size checked out. But researchers did notice some other differences:

Almost 20 percent of women on SSRIs gave birth prematurely – before 37 weeks of gestation – compared to 10 percent of depressed, non-medicated women and 5 percent of women without depression, consistent with previous studies.

However, neither depression nor SSRIs were associated with lower weight, shorter length or smaller head size at two weeks, three months, six months and one year.

Dr. Richard Shelton poses that had the study found a correlation between baby growth and antidepressants, it would be mighty difficult to actually cement causation:

That’s because women who take medication for their depression and those who don’t tend to be different in many ways which could affect pregnancy outcomes, Shelton said. People on medication are likely more severely depressed, for one, and may have other medical conditions, such as obesity, that aggravate depression.

He admits that “this is a good study with some significant limitations, which is inherent in this kind of work.”


(photo: Ramon Espelt Photography / Shutterstock)