Taking This Popular Anti-Depressant During Pregnancy Can Lead To Language Disorders In Offspring
By Kurtis Bright
With The Ubiquity Of Anti-Depressants Comes A Dark Side For Pregnant Women
It’s hard to imagine who difficult being pregnant must be. The changes wrought on a woman’s body are massive, brutal, and they must be tremendously stressful--both physically and mentally.
All of which would go a long way to explaining why SSRIs or selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors are an extremely common prescription for pregnant women; in fact they are the most common type of antidepressant prescribed to women who are pregnant.
But a troubling new study has shown compelling evidence that taking such drugs during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of language disorders for the woman’s offspring, including dyslexia.
According to the study, children of women who took SSRIs while they were pregnant had a 37 percent higher chance of developing speech or language disorders when compared with the offspring of women who reported depression, but who remained unmedicated with SSRIs during their term.
However Dr. Alan Brown, study lead author was quick to quash panic. As he explained in a CNN interview, what the numbers mean is this: if a mother doesn’t take SSRIs during her pregnancy, her child’s risk of developing speech disorders is about 1 percent. On the other hand, the study showed that when a pregnant woman is on SSRIs, her offspring’s chance of developing such a disorder rises to 1.37 percent.
That may not seem like a lot, but given the sheer population of the world and the numbers of people on SSRIs, it makes a significant difference, according to Dr. Brown.
“When you have relative risks that are 1.37, they're considered to be low,” he said. “But because so many people are exposed--6 percent to 10 percent of mothers are exposed (to antidepressants) throughout the world--it's increasing the public health burden.
“I don’t think individuals have to worry about this, but I do think at the population level it makes a very big difference,” he added.
Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, Dr. Brown’s study pulled data from the records of some 850,000 live births between 1996 and 2010, categorizing the mothers into three groups: one group that purchased SSRIs at least once during their pregnancy, one group that had been diagnosed with depression but did not purchase antidepressants, and a third that had never been diagnosed with depression nor purchased antidepressants, assuming the purchase of antidepressants to represent women who considered themselves to be depressed.
The study found that women who purchased SSRIs more than once during their pregnancy demonstrated an even higher risk of speech or language disorders in their offspring compared with the women in the other groups.
“These disorders are quite prevalent in the population. They cause significant impairment," Brown said, adding that dyslexia, articulation disorders and other diagnosed language disorders can have a “...potentially big effect on school function and later life function. It's a significant public health issue: A lot of therapies, speech language therapies, a lot of funds get invested. It's a large burden to society and also to individuals.”
So it seems like a tough choice: nine months of depression going untreated--at least with SSRIs--or imposing a lifetime of speech disorders on your unborn child.
That can be just one more to add to the list of the sacrifices we ask mothers to make.