The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (1/1/13) and examined the risk of having a stillbirth when the mother took an SSRI while pregnant. Researchers used information on use of SSRIs by pregnant Nordic women who had singleton births between 1996 and 2007 and examined the rate of stillbirth, neonatal death and postnatal death. More than one million women were included in the study and of those, approximately 29,000 had filled a prescription for an SSRI at some point during their pregnancy.
According to researchers, there was no significant association between the use of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy and an increased risk of stillbirth, neonatal death or postnatal death. Researchers concluded, however, that use of SSRIs during pregnancy must include consideration of other outcomes versus the risk of untreated maternal mental illness.
"Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy has been associated with congenital anomalies, neonatal withdrawal syndrome, and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn," researchers noted. They did not, however, examine any potential link between SSRIs and those conditions.
Use of antidepressants such as Prozac during pregnancy is complex because studies suggest there are risks to the fetus when the mother takes antidepressants but also risks associated with having untreated depression. As such, women who are pregnant and have depression face a difficult choice.
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"There is little evidence of benefit from the antidepressants prescribed for the majority of women of childbearing age??"and there is ample evidence of risk," researchers wrote.