Expectant mothers taking many common antidepressants no longer need to worry that the drugs might harm the future neurological, behavioral or cognitive development of their child.
“Results from previous studies on this topic have presented conflicting results. Due to the large size of our population and the careful design of our study, we believe that our study provides clarity that could help patients and providers make treatment decisions during pregnancy,” said the author. of the study Elizabeth Suarez, a professor in the Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Treatment Sciences at Rutgers. Institute for Research on Health, Health Care Policy and Aging.
Use of antidepressants during pregnancy has not been associated with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral disorders, developmental disorders of speech, language , learning and coordination or intellectual disabilities, according to the study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
“We believe these results are reassuring with respect to concerns about potential effects on neurodevelopmental outcomes in children, particularly for diagnoses that may be of greater concern to expectant parents such as autism spectrum disorder,” said Suarez via email.
“It’s really an important document. Women and healthcare professionals are often concerned about antidepressants during pregnancy and sometimes decide to suddenly stop these drugs as soon as the pregnancy is known,” said Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, in Psychology and Neuroscience from King’s College London. in a report.
Instead, women with depression and other mental disorders for which antidepressants are prescribed should be advised that the risk during pregnancy “is not as high as previously thought,” Pariante said, who did not participate in the study.
“I’m grateful for this study,” Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas, a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee, told CNN via email.
“One in 5 perinatal people will experience a mental health issue,” said Moore Simas, who was not involved in the study. “We need to stop shaming them for doing what is necessary to take care of themselves. Healthy babies need healthy mothers.
Numerous studies over the decades have found associations between the use of antidepressants during pregnancy and developmental problems in children, primarily autism and ADHD. But more recent research has called into question the quality of this earlier research. Many older studies were observational in nature and often did not control for contributing factors such as obesity and other health conditions, environmental toxins, inflammation, and even maternal stress.
Older research also did not consider the impact on a developing fetus carried by a mother with uncontrolled depression, anxiety, or another psychiatric disorder. Failure to treat a mother’s mental disorder has also been linked to “stillbirth, premature birth, growth restriction and birth weight problems, impaired bonding, adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes and risk increased mental health of offspring,” Moore Simas said.
According to experts, depressed women may also miss prenatal visits, skip meals, abuse alcohol or cigarettes, and generally fail to take care of their growing fetus because they do not take care of themselves. same.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a very small number of antidepressants have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. Pregnant women should therefore discuss their medications with their doctor.
“We did not consider other potential adverse outcomes in our study. Our findings for neurodevelopmental disorders must be weighed against the risk of other outcomes – such as a potential small increase in the risk of preterm birth – and the benefits of treatment,” Suarez said.
Despite advances in knowledge showing little or no impact from most common antidepressants, many doctors and mothers-to-be are still wary of their use, Moore Simas said.
Consultations between pregnant women and their doctors regarding the use of antidepressants are often “framed in the context of the risk of the medications – although the data overall is reassuring”, she said. “Conversations about the use of medications for mental health during pregnancy or otherwise must consider the risk of untreated disease.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meets regularly to update guidance on medications that can be used safely during pregnancy, a spokesperson told CNN, and will review recent research such as this new study.
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