New research has found even more evidence regarding the risk to a baby health from prenatal antidepressant use.
The U.K. study found that common antidepressants could double the risk of a child being born with a heart defect if taken in early pregnancy. According to researchers, the risk of a baby being born with a heart defect is around two in 100. But evidence suggests if a mother took a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, or SSRI, in early pregnancy that risk increases to around four in 100.
SSRIs are a class of compounds commonly used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. But this is not the first time that their use in pregnant women has made news. Last year, a study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that newborns of mothers on antidepressants are more likely to have dangerously high blood pressure in the lungs.
At the time, researchers recommended caution when treating pregnant women with SSRIs. But in light of this new study, experts in the U.K.'s National Institute for Health Care and Excellence say this advice will be updated.
"The available evidence suggests that there is a risk associated with the SSRIs. We make a quite a lot of effort really to discourage women from smoking or drinking even small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy, and yet we're perhaps not yet saying the same about antidepressant medication, which is going to be carrying similar - if not greater - risks," said Professor Stephen Pilling, an advisor at NICE in an interview with the BBC.
He warned that the risk posed by SSRIs in early pregnancy is not worth taking for women with mild to moderate depression.
[via BBC News]