Should a pregnant woman stop taking antidepressants during her pregnancy? The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a study showing the risk of autism doubles (from 1% to 2%) for children of women who use antidepressants, like Zoloft and Prozac. Max Wiznitzer, MD, pediatric neurologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, stresses, even if the study proves correct, the vast majority of babies exposed to antidepressants in the second and third trimesters will not develop autism. "The odds are still overwhelmingly in the mother's favor that this is not going to occur," he says.
Dr. Wiznitzer says the effects of depression on the fetus of women prescribed these drugs is worse than the increased risk of autism, if it exists, and suggests women do not go off these medications.
The risks of a woman not getting treatment for depression during her pregnancy include exposing the fetus to elevated stress reactors in her blood, complications in the birth due to the depression, and the possibility a depressed mother will not bond properly with the child after the baby is born. "There's a lot of ramifications of not treating the anxiety," says Dr. Wiznitzer, "and we have to say to ourselves, 'What's the benefit and what's the risk?'"
Dr. Wiznitzer says the study didn't take every factor into account, including obesity and spacing of pregnancies, and he's quick to point out other studies have shown no risk. "If you're pregnant, have depression and anxiety, keep taking your medication," says Dr. Wiznitzer.
Source: University Hospitals Case Medical Center