According to the author of the ScienceNews (06/05/10) article, Susan Gaidos, studies conducted in the past few years indicate that mice and rats exposed to antidepressants either just before or just after birth grew up anxious and depressed. A more recent study, according to Gaidos, suggests that children exposed to antidepressants while in the womb are more likely to appear sad or withdrawn at three years old than those not exposed to antidepressants.
Serotonin is produced naturally in the brain and is released into the spaces between the person's neurons. The neuron that releases the serotonin then takes it back almost immediately. This is called reuptake. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors work by preventing serotonin's reuptake. The longer serotonin remains in the space between neurons (known as the synapse), the better the person feels. People who are depressed may feel less so because the serotonin remains in the synapse for longer.
Gaidos notes that for children, serotonin may be involved in growth of young cells involved in processes such as vision, thought and memory.
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Women who are depressed and pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant must weigh the risks of discontinuing medication against the risks of taking the SSRIs. Studies have shown that women who are depressed are less likely to take care of themselves and are more likely to engage in risky behavior.