Baby blues

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, diet and diabetes are pet topics of mine.

But sometimes, I decide to take the discussion in a different direction–especially when I come across news that pertains to something I see in my practice on a fairly regular basis.

If I’m encountering a lot of a certain issue, then chances are good many of you are facing it. And that’s why, today, I’d like to talk about antidepressants… and more specifically, how they can affect women who are trying to get pregnant.

There’s no question that depression is a serious risk factor for both mother and baby. But the results of a new review suggest that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, for short) aren’t the best course of treatment.

The evidence doesn’t point to any better outcomes with these drugs. Quite the opposite, in fact. Despite being widely prescribed, antidepressants come with a great deal of risk for women of childbearing age.

For starters, they could sabotage your efforts to conceive. Depression is common for women struggling with infertility. But research suggests that SSRI treatment could make fertility treatment less effective–both decreasing pregnancy rates and increasing risk of miscarriage among these women.

For women who are able to conceive, SSRIs raise risk of preterm birth and congenital abnormalities–especially cardiac defects. They’re also linked to delayed head growth and a condition called newborn behavioral syndrome, marked by crying, jitteriness, and feeding difficulties.

But the risk doesn’t end at infancy. Studies also link maternal antidepressant use with delayed motor development that can last into toddlerhood. And one study revealed that SSRI treatment during pregnancy increased risk of autism spectrum disorders by two-fold.

Could this be the reason for the tremendous rise in autism? Or at the very least, another contributing factor?

First there was thimerosal–not to mention a host of other toxic environmental chemicals. And now there are widely prescribed SSRIs, the residue of which has been found in municipal drinking water.

I can’t be the only one wondering if there’s a connection here.

A generation ago, the incidence of autism was 1:10,000. Now, it’s 1:100. That is a startling statistic. And it’s one that the drug companies should be made to answer for.

When a study like this comes along, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Someone needs to look into this and be held accountable before yet another generation suffers.

Pharmaceuticals are dispensed like candy in this country, and their long term effects are not regularly or scientifically studied. Yet we blame so many other circumstances for the woes of society, without ever looking at what problems all of these new and very popular drugs may cause.

No, smoke doesn’t always mean fire. But it’s well past time someone sounded an alarm.

Until then, there are several safe alternatives to SSRIs that are worth trying. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about experimenting with these natural solutions instead.

Amino acids like 5HTP and SAM-e are essential for balancing brain chemistry and regulating stress. And even a simple probiotic can help to keep your neurotransmitters in check.

Brooks, Megan. “SSRIs in pregnancy: More risks than benefits?” 31 Oct 2012. Medscape Medical News.
“The risks of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use in infertile women: a review of the impact on fertility, pregnancy, neonatal health and beyond.” Hum Reprod. 2013 Jan;28(1):160-71. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des383. Epub 2012 Oct 31.