SSRI depression treatment OK for moms-to-be

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Depression during pregnancy is not an uncommon affliction, affecting between 1 in 5 and 1 in 14 women throughout the developed world. A new study suggests pregnant women suffering from depression should be able to take a certain class of antidepressants without worrying about harming their baby.

Olof Stephansson, M.D., Ph.D., of Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet, and colleagues examined the medical records of nearly 30,000 women in Nordic countries who filled selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescriptions while pregnant, between 1996 to 2007. After adjusting for maternal psychiatric disease and other variables, such as smoking, they found no association between the drugs and risk of stillbirth, neonatal death or postneonatal death.

The study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross says this should provide some reassurance to pregnant women who suffer from depression. While this study doesn't mean taking SSRI drugs during pregnancy is risk-free, depression carries with it its own set of potential problems, he notes. "Depression during pregnancy is a major risk factor for the mother and the baby, aside from the obvious risk of suicide," he says.