Study: Effects of anti-depressants on fetuses

Depression is a serious condition, particularly for women who are pregnant. But questions exist as to whether it's safe to take medication during pregnancy. Could anti-depressants hurt a fetus? There are new results tonight, following research on whether it's safe to use prescription drugs to control feelings of despondency and depression. As many as one in 20 pregnant mothers suffer from major depression, a serious condition that often requires treatment with antidepressant medication. But are these drugs safe for developing babies? In 2005 Glaxo-Smith-Kline warned that babies exposed to Paxil in the womb may have an increased risk of heart defects. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the relationship between antidepressants and 18 different birth defects in more than 13,000 infants. Overall they found no increase in the risk of birth defects in babies whose mothers had taken antidepressants, including heart defects. A second study also found no overall link between antidepressants and birth defects. The study did find that Paxil may be associated with an increase in heart problems. Researchers say that birth defects remain rare among babies exposed to antidepressants, but that some small risk probably remains. Doctors and women must weigh these risks against the potential for insomnia, lack of appetite, and suicidal thinking -- all risks for a pregnant mother's untreated depression.

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