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thinking about taking antidepressants while pregnant?  you might want to rethink that


Antidepressants Baby Side Effects

I don’t care how safe doctors tell you this drug or that drug is for pregnant women, all you have to do is look at YESTERDAY’S POST ON DEPRESSION to realize how untrustworthy the FDA really is.  Speaking of pregnancy and DEPRESSION, Monday’s issue of JAMA Pediatrics carried an interesting study titled Associations Between Brain Structure and Connectivity in Infants and Exposure to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors During Pregnancy.  My biggest takeaway? 

If you are pregnant, might be pregnant, could possibly become pregnant, and are still taking antidepressants, you had better do whatever it takes to get off of them ASAP.  Psychiatrists from institutions in New York and California teamed up via the Ivy League’s Columbia University to provide these cherry-picked conclusions.

“The prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications for pregnant women has accelerated over the past 30 years.  Consistent with animal studies, a recent national registry study of over 15,000 prenatally SSRI-exposed offspring found increased rates of depression in early adolescence in youth with prenatal SSRI exposure. Our findings suggest that prenatal SSRI exposure has an association with fetal brain development, particularly in brain regions critical to emotional processing.”

In other words, this study showed that if pregnant mom takes antidepressants, baby ends up with SSRI-associated problems with both their brain’s amygdala and insula (increased volumes) as well as problems with the connections between the two.  Here are some cherry-picked details.

“Abnormalities in the amygdala-insula circuitry may be associated with anxiety and depression. Increased amygdala volumes are seen in both children and adults with anxiety disorders, heightened amygdala and insula task-related functional MRI activations are evident in adults with anxiety disorders during the presentation of fearful stimuli, and resting-state functional MRI studies show increased functional connectivity between the amygdala and insula in generalized anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. 

Similar functional connectivity findings are reported in children and adolescents across a range of anxiety disorders and symptoms. This abnormal amygdala-insula circuitry may be associated with increased vulnerability to anxiety and/or other mood disorders”.

In other words, taking antidepressants while pregnant is a losing proposition, no matter what your doctor says (historically this class of drug has been promoted as safe for pregnant women).  But it’s really much worse than it appears on the surface.  Because of the rise of what I refer to as “The Leakies” (hyper-permeable barrier systems — LEAKY GUT, LEAKY BRAIN, etc), it’s no longer rare to see drugs that are not supposed to cross the BBB (blood-brain barrier) ending up where doctors say it’s impossible for them to end up. 

Enter our own “trust us” FDA (see earlier link), which less than two weeks ago released a paper titled Pregnant Women: Scientific and Ethical Considerations for Inclusion in Clinical Trials Guidance for Industry.  Their goal is to make it easier for BIG PHARMA to get pregnant women into drug trials.

“In the interests of promoting maternal / fetal health and informed prescribing decisions during pregnancy, this guidance addresses the challenges of including pregnant women in drug development research.  There are more than 60 million women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 years, and almost 4 million births per year.  Like women who are not pregnant, some pregnant women need to use drugs to manage chronic disease conditions or treat acute medical problems.  To the extent there is labeling information for pregnant women, it is usually based on nonclinical data with or without limited human safety data. 

The frequent lack of information based on clinical data often leaves the health care provider and the patient reluctant to treat the underlying condition, which in some cases may result in more harm to the woman and the fetus than if she had been treated.  In addition, pregnant women often use medically necessary drugs without a clear scientific understanding of the risks and benefits to themselves or their developing fetuses.”

While medication may be necessary in certain cases of pregnancy, whether pushed or prescribed, drugs are always associated with side effects — doubly true of antidepressants.  Furthermore, in the case of prescription drugs, we know that these side effects are UNDER-REPORTED to the proper authorities by between one and two orders of magnitude (only about 1 in 20 adverse events are actually ever reported).  This makes the average medication appear far safer than it actually is. 

On top of this, the only way to really see what these drugs are going to do over the long haul is to follow these women and their babies for decades, something that the first study discussed today clearly showed has not been happening (yesterday’s post revealed that the average length of time for studies on antidepressants is a few months). 

If there is one thing we know for certain it’s that no matter where it comes from, maternal / fetal CHEMICAL EXPOSURE increases risks of a huge array of physical, psychological, and social health problems.  Unless a pregnant woman is in a do-or-die situation, why take chances with drugs whose side effect profile could best be described as “the great unknown”? 

Furthermore, there are an array of interventions that women can take part in both before and after getting pregnant, which could potentially help manage (and in some cases even get rid of) the “chronic disease conditions” mentioned above.  In fact, in most cases the idea that drugs somehow “treat the underlying condition” is a actually an indictment of the screwed up thinking of AMERICA’S DRUG-HAPPY CULTURE.  If there’s one thing we should all realize by now it’s that pharmaceutical drugs rarely solve abnormal physiology or aberrant homeostasis (HERE). 

While I would never recommend everything in THIS POST be extrapolated to pregnant women or women who have the potential to become pregnant, if you are a female who is dealing with CHRONIC CONDITIONS or AUTOIMMUNITY, for the sake of your baby’s long term health, start making some changes (consuming less JUNK and more WHOLE FOODS is something everyone can do).  The last thing you want to do is become BIG PHARMA’S GUINEA PIG, whether pregnant or not.

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