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Pregnant women should not take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Researchers found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the form of antidepressants increased the risk of speech disorders and dyslexia in children whose mothers had taken these drugs during pregnancy. SSRIs are the most common type of prescribed antidepressant in pregnant women.
The University of Helsinki and Columbia University researchers found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the risk of speech disorders in children if their mothers take them during pregnancy. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "JAMA Psychiatry".
SSRIs increase the likelihood of speech disorders by about 37 percent
When pregnant mothers take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, it increases the likelihood of various language disorders among the children. The children of such mothers have an approximately 37 percent higher risk of developing speech disorders compared to children of depressed mothers who did not take any of these drugs, the authors explain.
Study divides pregnant mothers into three different groups
Many people around the world suffer from depression. Pregnant women are no exception. Around six to ten percent of the world's mothers take so-called antidepressants, the scientists suspect. For their study, the researchers examined over 845,000 live births between 1996 and 2010. The mothers were then divided into three different groups. The first so-called exposure group comprised 15,596 mothers. These women had taken SSRIs one or more times before or during pregnancy, and the second group consisted of 9,537 mothers who had depression or other psychiatric disorders but did not take antidepressants. The third group comprised 31,207 mothers who never had depression and never used antidepressants, the researchers explain.
More speech disorders after using antidepressants
The doctors determine the use of antidepressants on the basis of the medicines purchased. If women renewed their prescription, it is likely that they had taken the drug and wanted to continue to do so, the authors say. The data obtained showed an increased risk of speech disorders in children whose mothers had acquired SSRIs during pregnancy compared to children of mothers without depression or without SSRIs.
The consequences of speech disorders can have a major impact later in life
If women took SSRIs at least twice during pregnancy, the likelihood of speech disorders increased, the researchers report. Such disorders are generally very common in the population and would cause considerable impairments. The experts further explain that dyslexia, articulation disorders and other diagnostic language disorders have a major impact on later school functions. Therefore, therapies, language courses and a lot of money are required to treat these problems, the scientists explain.
What drugs are SSRIs?
So-called SSRIs include, for example, Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram). Although such drugs are known to affect the placenta and enter the baby's bloodstream, doctors still prescribe them to women with pregnancy depression.
How many pregnant women take an antidepressant?
About one in seven women of reproductive age with private health insurance in the United States are taking an antidepressant, the authors explain. More recent data even suggest that about three percent of pregnant women take antidepressants during pregnancy. Some researchers suspect that the values are actually much higher. The authors estimate the current use in pregnant women between 4 percent and 10 percent.
Alternatives to antidepressants during pregnancy
Aside from the disagreement about the real numbers, taking SSRIs during pregnancy is a serious problem, doctors say. Psychotherapy could be as effective as antidepressants in treating moderate or milder forms of depression. Severe forms of depression, including suicidal depression and psychotic depression, do not benefit as much from psychotherapy. Some women are forced to take antidepressants during pregnancy, the experts say. (as)