Antidepressant use and what it means for pregnant women

Doctor with womanMore than 15% of reproductive-aged women have filled a prescription for an antidepressant medication during the years 2008-2013 according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

An antidepressant is a medication used to treat depression. Some commonly used antidepressants are sertraline (Zoloft), bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), and citalopram (Celexa).

Why is this important?

There is conflicting evidence about the potential link between some antidepressants and certain birth defects.  Antidepressant medication use during pregnancy has been increasing in the U.S. Given that 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, antidepressant use may  occur during the first weeks of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development.

Further research on antidepressant safety during pregnancy is needed so that health care providers can advise women about the potential risks and benefits of using certain antidepressants before, during and between pregnancies.

What is being done?

The CDC’s initiative, Treating for Two: Safer Medication Use in Pregnancy, provides women and their health care providers with reliable and accessible information on common medication used during pregnancy. The CDC aims to expand and accelerate research on prescription antidepressant use during pregnancy so that women have up-to-date information and providers can make informed treatment decisions and prescribe the safest medications.

What can you do?

If you are thinking about pregnancy or are  pregnant, speak with your prenatal care provider about any medications you are taking.

If you’re taking an antidepressant and find out you’re pregnant, don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your provider first. Not taking your medicine may be harmful to your baby, and it may make your depression come back.

Bottom line

Talk with all of your providers about the benefits and risks of taking an antidepressant during pregnancy and decide together on your treatment plan.

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