US Government Reviews Antidepressants During and After Pregnancy

Rob Wipond
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a meta-analysis “Evidence Report” of the studies into the benefits and harms of antidepressant treatments during and after pregnancy. Prepared by the Portland-based Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center, the research team’s analysis included all studies published before July 2013. Overall, the team determined that not enough research has been done to provide clear guidance on benefits or harms, though they did identify several concerns about newborns.

The team found “low-strength evidence” suggesting that SSRIs create a higher risk of respiratory distress in newborn infants. They found “insufficient” evidence to draw conclusions about possible increases in birth defects when pregnant mothers take antidepressants – though they suggested more research in this area seemed to be warranted. “Although the absolute increased risk of autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in the child associated with antidepressant use for depression in pregnancy may be very small, this issue also merits attention in future research,” they wrote.

The team concluded that, “Evidence about the comparative benefits and harms of pharmacological treatment of depression in pregnant and postpartum women was largely inadequate to allow well-informed decisions about treatment.”

Antidepressant Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, July 8, 2014)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the interfaces between psychiatry, civil rights, the justice system, and social change. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, nine Western Magazine Awards, and five Webster Awards for journalism. He is currently working on a book about people's experiences of forced psychiatric treatment, and can be contacted through his website.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Exposing unborn children to these chemicals that life has never before encountered over vast eons of time can’t possibly be a good thing.

    Look how sick healthy adults get when they try and stop taking these SSRI drugs the industry has the audacity to call “non addictive”.

    But the mother is depressed… Not to depressed to get pregnant obviously.

    • Here we go…
      “Based on direct evidence from two very small observational studies, we found inconsistent results on the benefit of SSRI treatment on depressive symptoms during pregnancy and no evidence for other drug classes. A small observational study reported that depressed women treated with SSRIs continuously during pregnancy had higher scores on the SF -12 Mental Component Scale than did untreated women with depression throughout pregnancy (scores of 45 and 35, respectively, on a scale of 0 to 100), but the timing of measurement was not clear. We found no direct evidence of the effects of antidepressant drugs on other important depression outcomes, such as anxiety symptoms in women with depression during pregnancy. No direct evidence was available regarding pregnancy weight gain, intention to breastfeed, uptake of breastfeeding, or duration of breastfeeding”” … and so on – conclusion was there is no data to say if there is any maternal benefit at all. Wow… Same goes for “child benefits”. Ergo – there is zero evidence that anti-depressants cause any benefit to either women and fetuses.

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