Pregnant women who take anti-depressants are more likely to have children with speech and learning difficulties, a study has suggested.
Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health stated the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in this medication can “infect” the placenta.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, looked at 845,345 births between 1996 and 2010 taken from national registries in Finland.
They found those who took anti-depressants “almost doubled” the risk of having kids who have language difficulties or developmental delay.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship between maternal anti-depressant use and speech or language, scholastic, and motor disorders in offspring,” said Professor Alan Brown, according to the Daily Mail.
“The study benefited from large sample population and followed the children beyond age three.”
Researchers formed a group of mothers who had bought SSRIs once or more before or during pregnancy.
They also had a group of mothers who were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder one year before or during pregnancy but did not have anti-depressants.
The final group was mothers who had not been diagnosed with a mental health illness and had not had anti-depressants.
Researchers found, irrespective of the number of purchases of anti-depressants, the risk of speech or language disorders was increased among their children.
Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for www.oxfordonlinepharmacy.co.uk said pregnant women should know taking medication is a “fine balance” or risks versus benefits.
“Studies such as this are understandably of concern to expectant mothers,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“All medicines will have clear guidelines on the instruction leaflet about their evaluation for safety for use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
“Providing sufficient studies have been done on the effects of using that medicine during pregnancy, it will clearly say whether you should avoid it or you are safe to take it.
“In some cases, the leaflet will be more uncertain, and say that you should only take it if the benefits outweigh the risks. Some anti-depressants, for example, are better not taken while pregnant, however, if the mother is at severe psychological risk of her depression, then it may be better to take them.
“Sometimes it depends on the stage of pregnancy, where some medicines may be potentially harmful to the young developing embryo, whereas others could cause damage to the developed foetus. Read the leaflet, ask the pharmacist and discuss with your doctor if you are still not sure.”