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Depression in pregnancy: To treat or not to treat?

As a mom of two who experienced one very bad bout of pre-baby "blues," I'm extremely sympathetic to pregnant women who suffer from depression. Deciding between treating the symptoms (and facing certain risks) or coping with the illness (and facing others) is a tough task - and new research could cause more angst for women leaning towards treatment. The study out of Denmark found that antidepressant use among pregnant women is linked with premature birth and other complications. As described by WebMD:

Newborns whose mothers took SSRIs while expecting were also more than twice as likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and to have a lower 5-minute Apgar score than babies whose mothers did not take the drugs during pregnancy, according to the study.

The lead researcher says the results shouldn't be a "final answer" as to whether women should avoid antidepressants during pregancy - and I suspect most physicians would agree that the risks of not treating severe depression likely outweigh the risks posed by medications to the newborn. It's clearly a complicated issue, and as suggested by one of the doctors in this article, optimal treatment plans might need to be made on a case-by-case basis.

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