When women are pregnant, they frequently worry that something they swallow will harm the developing baby. Previous studies have suggested that mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy might have infants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or even autism.
Is There a Problem with Antidepressants During Pregnancy?
Such findings pose a terrible double bind for women. Untreated depression can put the mothers’ health at risk, and thus indirectly harm their babies as well. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found no evidence for such psychiatric harm among the children of women using antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The data included all live births in Sweden between 1996 and 2012, more than 1.5 million youngsters. The researchers compared the infants born to mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy to siblings born after a pregnancy that did not include antidepressants.
The investigators found just one complication: a 30 percent increased risk of premature birth. Premature birth is not very common. Consequently, a 30 percent increase in relative risk does not affect a large number of deliveries.
The scientists conclude:
“Among offspring born in Sweden, after accounting for confounding factors, first-trimester exposure to antidepressants, compared with no exposure, was associated with a small increased risk of preterm birth but no increased risk of small for gestational age, autism spectrum disorder, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.”