Will Antidepressants Affect Baby’s Growth? New Study Concludes…

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Good news for moms-to-be taking antidepressants!

A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in Advance concluded that infants born to moms who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) had similar weights, lengths and head circumferences to infants born to women who didn’t take antidepressants. Though infants whose mothers did take antidepressants were shorter at birth, the difference in size disappeared by two-weeks of age.

Historically, maternal prenatal stress and depression have been linked to preterm birth and low infant birth weights, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Prenatal depression also affects appetite, nutrition and prenatal care. In the past, there had been concern that antidepressant treatment throughout pregnancy would reduce baby’s growth during their first year of life. In fact, previous data even suggested depression during pregnancy may also diminish infant growth.  The release of this new information dispels the existing data. Additionally, researchers found that growth measurements for infants born to depressed women who did not take SSRIs were similar to the general population (babies born to mothers who are not depressed).

Northwestern Medicine lead author of the study, Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., said, “Most women want to know about the effect of their depressive illness or the medication they take during pregnancy not only on the infant at birth, but also on the baby’s longer-term growth and development. This information may help women balance the risks and benefits of continuing their antidepressant treatment during pregnancy.”

Wisner also noted that women who stop taking SSRIs near the time of conception have a high relapse rate. The conclusions drawn in this study could potentially help women who are taking SSRIs continue their antidepressant medication without cause for concern.

It’s important to note that this is just the finding of one study that focused on SSRI’s and baby’s growth rates. Though the research determined that SSRI’s do not negatively impact baby’s growth, the research doesn’t ever conclude that antidepressants are safe for all pregnant women. It’s important to check-in regularly with your doctor, to determine what the best practice for your health (and baby’s health!) should be.

Did you take SSRIs during your pregnancy? What do you think of this study?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Fertility 101: The Hot and Cold of Conception

Can Taking Antidepressants Negatively Affect My Fertility?

Is it Safe to Take an SSRI While Trying to Conceive?