May 25, 2012 — For several years, there has been growing evidence regarding the association between antidepressant drugs and premature birth (including Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft). However, there is no consensus on whether the prematurity is due to underlying depression or the drugs. Today, a study published in the journal Epidemiology has concluded that premature birth is associated with the antidepressant drugs themselves, and not underlying depression.
The conclusions of the study are good news for pregnant women who are depressed, and were concerned that their depression could harm their baby. Kim Yonkers, a professor involved with the study, says “This study tells them they should not worry that they are somehow compromising their pregnancy because they are depressed. And when considering whether to take medication for depression, women should understand that the risk of preterm birth is only one of many factors they should weigh.”
Furthermore, the researchers found that maternal use of antidepressants only increased the risk of late preterm birth. A full-term pregnancy lasts between 37-40 weeks. A late preterm birth is defined as a pregnancy that lasts between 34-37 weeks. Late preterm babies are significantly less likely to have serious health complications compared to early premature births.
The study involved nearly 3,000 pregnant women who had depression, some of whom were taking antidepressants, while others did not. The researchers controlled for variables including age, health history, drug use, and socioeconomic status. They concluded that underlying depression had no effect on prematurity, but maternal treatment with antidepressants was associated with prematurity.
Other studies in sheep have suggested that antidepressants can cause a temporary reduction in the blood-flow to the uterus, which decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to a developing baby. This is a potential mechanism by which antidepressants could increase the risk of prematurity, especially if the antidepressant is taken during the entire pregnancy.
The researchers cautioned that women should always consult with their physician regarding antidepressant use during pregnancy. While there is a potential risk that an antidepressant could cause birth defects or premature birth, untreated depression can also adversely impact a developing baby — for example, if the mother stops taking care of herself, does not get adequate nutrition, or begins self-medicating with alcohol or illicit drugs.
Do I have an Antidepressant Premature Birth Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting antidepressant induced birth defect cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has had a baby that was injured by maternal use of an antidepressant, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Antidepressant Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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