A new meta-analysis uncovered evidence that newborn babies experience antidepressant withdrawal if their mothers were taking SSRIs while pregnant. As a result, the researchers recommend that mothers discontinue antidepressant use before pregnancy if possible.
“Tapering and discontinuation of antidepressant drugs before and during the early phase of pregnancy are worth attempting to prevent the occurrence of this syndrome,” they write.
The research was conducted by Jianjun Wang, at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, China, and Fiammetta Cosci, at the University of Florence, Italy. It was published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
Wang and Cosci searched for studies of in utero exposure to antidepressant drugs and their effect on newborn babies. Their analysis included 13 such studies. They focused on SSRIs (like sertraline, citalopram, and fluoxetine) and the SNRI venlafaxine.
They identified the following withdrawal symptoms in newborns: hypoglycemia, tremors, hypotonia, hypertonia, tachycardia, rapid breathing, and respiratory distress.
Previous studies have found that in utero exposure to antidepressants was associated with preterm birth, birth defects, developmental problems, cardiopulmonary problems, and even death.
How prevalent are these effects?
In one study cited by Wang and Cosci, a “neonatal abstinence syndrome” was found in 30% of the babies exposed to antidepressants, and none of the babies who were not.
In conclusion, Wang and Cosci write that nonpharmacological therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, should be used for women with depression who are pregnant.
Even for those with a history of multiple depressive episodes, they write, “nonpharmacological treatments should be the first choice, and only if they are not effective or desired should antidepressants be considered.”
Wang, J., & Cosci, F. (2021). Neonatal withdrawal syndrome following late in utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 90, 299–307. https://doi.org/10.1159/000516031 (Link)
Hopefully a lot of babies will recover, but some will go through life not knowing what’s wrong with them.
Back when they started drugging people for alleged mental illness, a woman who wanted to become pregnant, who had been so diagnosed had to choose “do I want to go off the drugs and get pregnant or is too much of a risk?” They even made tv dramas on this subject. However, a few years ago or so, I read of a woman who became pregnant and still took her SSRI drug throughout the pregnancy. She did receive pushback from readers of that particular magazine where her story ran; but she defended her decision because her baby came out with “five fingers and five toes” and she didn’t get suicidal or suffer from depression. Yet, other non psychiatric drugs are advertised to warn a pregnant womans not to take the drug. So, this craziness of this lady confused me. Especially, since, I know how very dangerous these drugs are. I am past the time of my child-bearing hurried along even quicker by taking these psych drugs for too many years, but to think of someone who would continue taking these drugs while pregnant and justifies taking them just appalls me to the 100th degree. And, now this article confirms a lot of my fears. Most health “experts” even dissuade the pregnant woman from either drinking alcohols or smoking; so why take an extremely dangerous drug like an SSRI or any psychiatic drug? But, will these women listen or will they be so selfish and so blind to the truth, that they will continue to harm their unborn baby? Just because a baby is born with five fingers and five toes does not mean everything is alright. Sadly, so many parents can attest to this fact. But, why do we need to endanger future generations because of our lame addictions to dangerous drugs, even those prescribed by psychiatrists and other health professionals? Thank you.