Autism Awareness Day: Antidepressants in Pregnancy

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April 2, 2013 | 2 Comments

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  1. Thanks so much, Dr. Urato, for putting this information out in public. If only you could get it in one of the mass-market women’s magazines like Redbook or Oprah! At least we can try and send it to every OB/GYN we know.

    Prescribing SSRI’s to a pregnant woman probably should be seen as a “desperate” move. The trouble is that too many doctors tell the mother-to-be (and I guess believe) that her depression itself will harm the baby. “Depression” is presented as if it’s a totally biological illness with predictable physical effects on the fetus – like Type 1 diabetes. The awful irony is that even some women who would rather cope with feelings of depression in their own way, may be persuaded to take SSRIs “for your child’s sake.” At best, they get vague advice to “ask your doctor about balancing the possible risks of treatment with the risks of untreated depression.”

    It’s nonsense, as far as I can tell. Depression “correlates” with many problems like poverty, lack of prenatal care, smoking, drinking and poor diet that in turn “correlate” with premature births and sickly babies. But there’s an obvious chicken-and-egg problem: all these things can cause depression, rather than resulting from it – and they can all harm the fetus even if the mother feels just fine. Many of the “experts” these days also tend to mix up prenatal depression with post-partum depression – it’s all “perinatal mood disorder.” They may warn the pregnant woman that she might fail to bond with her baby, who will be damaged for life as a result. To me that’s not counseling a depressed woman – that’s more like taking advantage of her depression to manipulate her. Even with the best of intentions.

    • I just came across this article and would love to be able to chat with Dr Urato. My baby was fatally malformed as I was on an antidepressant called citalopram, at a very high dose which is no longer prescribed as it can cause long qt syndrome and sudden death. My baby had no diaphragm and many other abnormalities. I am currently researching to see if I can get any info on antidepressants affecting mitochondria in a foetus.

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