Can Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Cause Birth Defects?
Antidepressants are one of the most common types of prescription medications around. It’s estimated that 13% of Americans take antidepressants and for those who need take them, that medication is a very important part of their lives. But when a woman becomes pregnant, it’s important to evaluate any medications she’s taking to make sure they’re safe to take during pregnancy and that includes antidepressants.
If you’re taking an antidepressant and find out that you’re pregnant, do not stop taking your antidepressant without talking to a doctor first. A doctor will need to take your unique circumstances into consideration before recommending anything. For example, a doctor might recommend stopping the medication for the rest of your pregnancy if you haven’t had any major depressive episodes recently and have been doing well with managing it in other ways, such as by seeing a therapist. But there are circumstances in which a doctor might decide the benefits of taking an antidepressant during pregnancy outweigh the risks.
Many types of antidepressants are generally considered safe to take during pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain types of SSRIs (including many popular antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa) and SNRIs (like Cymbalta and Effexor XR) are some options for pregnant women. However, like all other types of medications, these types of antidepressants can still carry some risks and it’s important that your healthcare provider explain those risks to you. For example, some research has found an increased risk of premature birth with SSRIs and premature birth can place a child at higher risk for many different types of birth injuries. Other research has also found a link between SSRIs and a higher risk of conditions like anencephaly, PPHN, club foot, and cleft lip/palate. Tricyclic antidepressants and Bupropion are less commonly prescribed to treat depression, but each of those have their own risks if taken during pregnancy.
While many antidepressants are usually OK to take during pregnancy, other types are often best avoided. Paxil is one type of SSRI that isn’t generally recommended for pregnant women since it has been linked to an increased risk of heart defects. MAOIs are also not advised for pregnant women since they could potentially inhibit the baby’s growth.
If you took an antidepressant during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, contact a birth trauma lawyer to find out what your options are. If your doctor negligently advised you to continue taking a type of antidepressant that isn’t recommended for pregnant women or if they failed to inform you about the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy, they may be liable for damages.