A new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology has linked antidepressant use in pregnancy to structural brain defects in the infants.
According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, in 2003-2004, 14 per cent of women aged 25-39 (childbearing age) received at least one antidepressant prescription. SSRIs, which include Celexa, Cipralex, Lexapro, Luvoz, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and others, were used by just over 2 per cent of pregnant women in BC in 2008.
The authors of the recent study, published on May 19 and entitled Rate of Chiari I Malformation in Children of Mothers with Depression with and without Prenatal SSRI Exposure said in a press release: “children of depressed mothers treated with a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy were more likely to develop Chiari type I malformations than were children of mothers with no history of depression.”
For the study, four groups of children underwent MRI scans of the brain: 33 children whose mothers had taken SSRIs during pregnancy were compared to 66 children with mothers with no depression in their health history. As well, 30 children whose mothers had experienced depression throughout their pregnancies but had abstained from SSRIs were compared with 60 children with mothers who had no history of depression.
According to the press release, “Fully 18 per cent of the children whose mothers took SSRIs during pregnancy had Chiari type I malformations, compared to 3 per cent among children whose mothers had no history of depression.”
Chiari type I malformations force brain tissue in the cerebellum to squeeze out into the spinal canal, often causing problems with balance, hand-eye coordination, vision, frequent headaches, developmental delays and insomnia and depression.