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Can antidepressants lead to birth defects?

Birth defects or injuries can happen for a number of reasons, and sometimes they can be avoided. For example, sometimes a serious birth injury may occur because a physician fails to properly monitor the mother or the hospital is not equipped to meet the standard of care necessary for labor and delivery. The mother's health during pregnancy is also often linked to birth injuries or defects.

A recent study suggests that women who take a popular type of antidepressants, selective serotonin inhibitors, might have a higher risk of various pregnancy complications. Among these are preterm birth or miscarriage, newborn behavioral syndrome, pulmonary hypertension of the infant, long-term neurobehavioral issues and birth defects.

The study, which was recently published in the journal "Human Production," shows that the use of certain antidepressants during pregnancy may be linked to unfortunate pregnancy outcomes. However, doctors and medical professionals have been quick to criticize the findings and point out that untreated depression can also lead to birth complications, such as stillbirth and preterm birth. Of course, it may also lead the pregnant woman to fail to take care of herself or even engage in self-harm.

There is still much debate in this arena among medical professionals, and deciding how to best treat depressed pregnant women should not be taken lightly. According to a 2009 report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Psychiatric Association, 14 to 23 percent of pregnant women experience some depression. Women with symptoms of depression should, of course, seek help.

Source: Huffington Post, "Antidepressants During Pregnancy Carry Risks, Study Says," Catherine Pearson, Nov. 14, 2012

  • Our law firm helps families obtain compensation when a child has experienced a birth injury due to a physician's or hospital's negligence or malpractice. More information about these types of injuries is available on our Ann Arbor Birth Injury page.

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