Despite concerns that antidepressants taken during pregnancy may affect the growth and development of babies, a small new study finds no difference in size between one-year-old babies who were and were not exposed to drugs.
Drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which include fluoxetine (sold as Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa), have been associated with premature birth and low birth weight. But their effect on the growth of children in infancy has not been studied.
Untreated depression also does not seem to affect the development of the child. This is important because the fastest growth of a child occurs in the first year of life – which creates the basis for the growth and formation of a person as the rest of life.
Scientists examined 97 pregnant women without depression, 46 – sitting on antidepressants and 31 – with depression, which was not treated with drugs. Their children were measured and weighed four times during the first year of life. Almost 20% of women taking SSRIs gave birth prematurely – before the 37th week of pregnancy – compared with 10% of women in untreated depression and 5% of women without depression.
However, neither depression nor SSRIs were associated with less weight, shorter body length or smaller baby’s head size after two weeks, three months, six months and one year.
Previous studies have shown that babies who are exposed to SSRIs tend to have more problems right after birth. Depression itself was associated with the risks of psychological development of the child. However, the choice to take or not take antidepressants during pregnancy remains the woman’s personal decision. Each should consult with its physician and weigh all the risks and benefits in its own unique case, the scientists added.