Baby’s Being Harmed by Mom’s Antidepressants

March 13, 2012
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Depression But now we know that “low serotonin”—which is what SSRI’s “fix”—doesn’t even cause depression! Action Alert!

A study conducted jointly in the Netherlands and the US has found that babies born to mothers who took antidepressants while they were pregnant had slightly slower head growth and were more likely to be born early. The study did not have any findings about whether there might be long-term effects or not.

Of nearly 8,000 pregnant women in the study, 570 had symptoms of depression during their pregnancy but did not take medication, while another 99 took SSRIs. In the womb, babies of women who were depressed gained less weight per week than babies of non-depressed mothers, and their heads grew a bit more slowly as well. With the women given SSRIs, the babies’ head growth was slowed by 0.18 millimeters per week. By the time they were born, those babies’ heads were about four millimeters smaller, on average, than babies of non-depressed moms. SSRIs are known to pass through the placenta, according to the lead researcher, and may reach the brain and affect its development.

On top of that, ten percent of mothers taking SSRIs had a premature birth, compared to six percent of those with untreated depression and five percent of non-depressed moms. Previous studies have suggested a slightly increased risk of some birth defects in babies of moms taking antidepressants, as well as a greater chance they will end up needing intensive care.

In January, the British Medical Journal published a study showing that babies of women who take SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy have a slightly increased risk of a life-threatening condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) in which not enough oxygen reaches the bloodstream but returns to the heart in an oxygen-poor state. This in turn causes rapid breathing, a rapid heart rate, respiratory distress, and cyanosis. If not caught in time, it can cause shock, heart failure, brain hemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, multiple organ damage, and possibly even death.

This finding is not new, however. In 2006, the FDA warned that women taking SSRIs were six times more likely to deliver babies with PPHN. And in October 2010, a Philadelphia jury ordered GlaxoSmithKline to pay $2.5 million to the family of a three-year-old boy, Lyam Kilker, who was born with heart defects because his mother took the SSRI antidepressant Paxil during pregnancy.

The problem is that mothers who take SSRIs for depression (either during pregnancy or to battle postpartum depression) often find it difficult to stop. SSRIs are not considered addictive by mainstream medicine because they do not create cravings and are not associated with drug-seeking behavior. However, even mainstream medicine agrees that stopping cold turkey can cause an array of symptoms such as dizziness (which can last for days), flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headache, and fatigue, as well as intense feeling of anxiety, irritability, or sadness. It’s so prevalent that it has a name—SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome—and the symptoms are so severe that many people decide to stay on the antidepressant just to stop those side effects.

Perhaps most significant for those who take SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, is the news that the theory behind the drug—that depression is caused by having low levels of serotonin in the brain—is being debunked. “Chemical imbalance [brought on by low serotonin levels] is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that,” according to Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. “It’s really an outmoded way of thinking.”

While Coyle, who is also the editor of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, says serotonin plays a role in depression, low serotonin is likely not the cause of depression. The theory that it causes depression was propagated only after the introduction of Prozac. As Dr. Joseph Mercola points out, the low serotonin theory arose because they understood how the drugs acted on the brain; it was a hypothesis that tried to explain how the drug might be fixing something. Later, investigations were done to see whether or not depressed people actually had lower serotonin levels, and in 1983 the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) concluded that “There is no evidence that there is anything wrong in the serotonergic system of depressed patients.”

Worse, if you take an SSRI drug that blocks the normal reuptake of serotonin, you end up with the very problem the drug is designed to treat—low serotonin levels. SSRIs cause the brain to behave in ways it was never designed to do. No wonder it causes teens to attempt suicide, and other people to have inexplicably violent psychotic breaks, as we reported a year ago.

In other news the FDA has responded to our petition to put a Black Box warning on SSRI labeling that discusses the risk of violence. In the agency’s letter to us, FDA acknowledges that the issue is a complex one and that they are looking into it further, though there is honestly little hope that they actually mean to do so. Let’s keep the heat on FDA to mandate a Black Box warning—please contact FDA today and express your concern over this serious issue!

34 Responses to “Baby’s Being Harmed by Mom’s Antidepressants”

  1. Peter says:

    Definitely an eye-opener! Anyone who take antidepressant drugs during maternity could potentially harm your babies.

       0 likes

  2. Antidepressants are one of the most difficult medications to wean off of in my patients.

       3 likes

  3. Doris says:

    Baby’s what? Pacifier? Do you mean multiple babies? ‘ Baby’s’ is possessive. Learn to write.

       3 likes

  4. Roberta Daly says:

    Taking SSRIs during pregnancy is a dangerous for the fetus. This must be on the box and mentioned by medical community.
    Tnank you for your action on this impt matter.

       1 likes

  5. Carol says:

    The only thing you are supposed to take when you with child is water and good vitamins and natural foods nothing more nothing less.

       1 likes

  6. Molly says:

    Babies, not Baby’s

       0 likes

  7. Margaret says:

    Thank you for This Information on this Very Important Subject, These Drugs Do So Much Damage and it is Criminal to See that now Mums are Targeted and their Newborn the New Casualties of These Dangerous Drugs; This is Unconscionable; How Can We as a Society of Conscience Accept This? m.c.

       0 likes

  8. Kate says:

    to early to tell, I had babies on anti depressants and they are fine.

       0 likes

  9. Susan says:

    This article is one of many the collective reason I will always support you. I am a long time Zoloft “user”. Have tried to get off it multiple times and experienced exactly what is you describe as discontinuation syndrome, and had to go back to taking it because the feeling of sadness and anxiety was just unbearable. Now I have a way to look for a solution by following names and information quoted in the article. Thank you!

       0 likes

  10. Barbara E. Bacon says:

    One more reason to “just say no to drugs.” Just because its prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean its safe or helpful. All allopathic pharmaceuticals are toxic to the body in some way. Buyer beware.

       1 likes

  11. Prentise says:

    Just want to point out to you that your headline, “Baby’s Being Harmed by Mom’s Antidepressants,” means that one baby is being harmed by his or her mom’s
    antidepressants, which is clearly not what you mean to say.

    Baby’s means either possessive, as in “the baby’s Mom,”
    or is a conjunction of two words, as in “the baby’s harmed” (baby is harmed).

    Since Mom’s here clearly is not a conjunction, which would be “Mom’s taking drugs” (Mom is taking), but possessive, and the article is not about just one Mom, it should be “Moms’ antidepressants.”

    The plural of baby is babies, not babys or baby’s.

    Your headline should therefore be “Babies Being Harmed by Moms’ Antidepressants.”

       2 likes

  12. Frederick Jackson says:

    Regardless of what may have caused my depression in the first place, I ended up with severe imbalance in all major neutotransmitters. And I experienced this as a heaviness in my brain like a lead weight. I could not function in my work as a scientist. 20 mg of, Paxil restrored my ability to work. My brains felt completely normal and there were no mood altering or physical side effects, including sexual side effects. THAT SSRIs ARE CONTRAINDICATED FOR PREGNANT WOMEN SHOUILD NOT BE TAKEN AS A STARTING POINT FOR BASHING THIS WONDERFUL DRUG. IT SAVED MY LIFE. GET REAL, TALK TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE REALLY SUFFERED FROM DEPRESSION!!!!!

       1 likes

  13. Babies are also being harmed by mothers’ ingestion of processed (manufactured) free glutamic acid (MSG). There are studies done by neuroscientists in the 1970s that say so (as well as industry-sponsored studies that say “no”). Good luck with getting a Black Box warning. There’s not even labeling for MSG.

       1 likes

  14. miimi bennett says:

    Thank you for this newsletter.

    Does anyone know where I could get help in dealing with the side effects of Tegretol which has been taken for over 20 years to control seizures of my 43 year old son. it doesn’t control the seizures, but getting off of it causes massive seizures.

    He took a gene detox test that showed “significant problems in 4 enzymes needed to breakdown all the major medicines used for grand mal seizures.” His central nervous system in being destroyed. Before medication, even with seizures, he had none of the problems he has now.

    I am open to anything positive and will go anywhere necessary.

    Mimi

       1 likes

  15. Maya says:

    Unbelievable, how could a mother, hopefully a conscious and caring one, harm a kid like this because they want to “lose weight.” Mothers are supposed to have larger stomachs during pregnancies, so how could this mother not know of this and act so irrationally and put her child in such danger like this?

       0 likes

  16. KS says:

    It should be common sense not to take various medicines while pregnant to begin with. SSRIs are dangerous enough as is on their own.

    Please bring forth issues that actually matter next time as opposed to women suffering from self-esteem issues.

       0 likes

  17. Cheri Porter-Keisner says:

    Self perpetuation of the pharmaceutical industry occurs because mental health professionals are trained to render diagnoses and prescribe meds for any minute ailment. From grief over loss of a loved to a child being too active because they have no where to play and are required to sit and be quiet. Normal emotions and behaviors are treated as symptoms. The consequence is a population full of dangerous chemicals which toxify minds and bodies. Often the medications which usually come with a lengthy harmful side effects are derivitives of chemical manufacturing industrial waste. Natural methods of healing which have been used for centuries and work in harmony with the body are challenged by the American Medical Association and The Food and Drug Administration because the margin for profit is lacking.

       1 likes

  18. AnnH says:

    I can vouch for the side effects of the SSRI’s because they did me on a 4 year trial of those medications and that had suicide on my mind 24/7 and actually the first medicine to break that horrific 4 years of sheer torture was wellbutrin which as far as I know is not an SSRI. I have heard that some SSRIs have worked for others so I’m not saying to totally dump them altogether but that particular 4 year period was the longest 4 years of my life and so awful I never want to repeat it, or maybe I’ll do what I was thinking the whole time. One of my teenage daughters at that time was continually calling me from school to make sure I was still alive as she knew what kind of thought patterns I was having. I remember that I even dreamed like that, so if a 40 something year old woman can have problems with them, so could the teenagers. All I can say about psychiatric medicines is that if they don’t make you well, they will make you WORSE!!!! I believe there should always be warning on all drugs, because honestly I think big Pharma is more interested in the almighty dollar than on people’s real well-being.

       0 likes

  19. K Rose says:

    So what do you suggest for severely depressed patients, then? Herbal remedies and minerals do not have an effect for most depressed or traumatized patients. Also, vitamins, healthy eating and exercise do little to assist in lowering symptoms either. Perhaps…gasp…it is the sign of a very unhealthy, self-obsessed and materialistic society that has a notable lack of connections that is helping to cause the huge increase in depression?

       0 likes

  20. A big part of the problem is that most people who are currently diagnosed with depression don’t really have it. Hereditary depression is a rare genetic disorder characterized by feelings of depression, loss of appetite and weight loss. Most patients diagnosed with depression today have feelings of depression, an increased appetite and weight gain. They have a different disease, one where medications are not helpful.

    It is now clear that excessive fructose primarily from sucrose and HFCS is the primary driver of insulin resistance and central obesity. When a person with insulin resistance consumes high glycemic carbohydrates their brain is subjected to magnified glucose spikes. Because glucose in high doses is toxic to nerve cells, over time these glucose spikes seem to trigger a chronic brain disorder characterized by a long list of brain dysfunction symptoms.

    At this point people are often diagnosed with conditions such as depression, ADHD, PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, autism, bipolar II, fibromyalgia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, irritable bowel syndrome and other similar brain disorders. We now call this disease process Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain syndrome or CARB syndrome.

    Because the brain plays a key role in auto-regulating fat stores, people with CARB syndrome start to store extra total body fat regardless of their caloric intake. The take home message is if you want to be healthy and have a functioning brain, you need to totally eliminate sugar and reduce your intake of high glycemic (rapidly absorbed) carbohydrates. Your dark moods will disappear nicely without the need for SSRIs. Change your diet, fix your brain–it’s that simple.

       1 likes

  21. Johann says:

    MAYBE there is such a thing as depression (as a separate disease, not caused by something else), but a diagnosis of depression usually means “My doctor is too lazy to bother looking at me and my tests and actually diagnosing what’s wrong.”

    It’s an easy cover-up for lazy, slipshod work on the part of doctors who have learned that if they don’t bother to diagnose you, prescribe antidepressants or just tell you it’s your imagination, they don’t have to do any work, spend any time on you, and they still get paid.

    I’ve been given one of the above diagnoses when I had: Paget’s disease of the bone, a sinus infection (on several occasions), and scarlet fever.

    I only go to the doctor when I suspect I’ll die if I don’t or if I have something that looks like it’s going to cause permanent damage.

       0 likes

  22. Leslie says:

    In 2008 I had the privledge to attend the XXIII Annual International Society of Fluoride Research Convention in Toronto. I sat thru 40 hrs of scientific papers presented by 100 scientists drs,dentists,chemists,veterinarians,toxicologists,and a fetal pathologist. The sad fact is fluoride is not only in our water, food, & air ; it is now in over 360 of our pharmaceuticals including most antidepressants,anesthesia, chemotherapy, antifungals, acid reflux meds,many steroids & antibiotics [read
    Fluoroquinolone Toxicity online] . Prozac, Paxil,Zoloft are among them. They cause lowered IQ and many other organ problems because the F causes the drugs they are added to to go in longer, stronger [crossing brain barrier], deeper, longer & cheaper [for the drug companies not you] Side effects are cumulative and often devastating and rarely reversable. Go to http://www.slweb.org ,click on FTRC link for list of F drugs to avoid.

       0 likes

  23. Margaret Thorp says:

    Clearly research needs to be done to verify that SSRIs are not doing what therorectically they are supposed to do and to figure out if they work and how.

       0 likes

  24. Louise Esther Rothstein says:

    I have multiple chemical sensitivities.
    These can-and often do-affect the brain itself.
    When they do that the results often include bouts of depression that begin during supposedly “safe” chemical exposures and that continue for some time afterwards.

    I don’t take “medication” for these “depressive episodes” for the sufficient reasons that
    those medications don’t get rid of toxic chemicals.

    What they do is make me much worse.

    And that is totally typical.

    For a chemical sensitive.

    We should not take that stuff.

       0 likes

  25. Jennifer Abcarian Lagos says:

    I am currently weaning off of the 30 mg/prozac I have been on for the past 18 years, mostly motivated by my finding in scientific literature that it is probably contributing to my osteoporosis. I find it ludicrous that it has not been considered “addictive” considering that the couple of times I’ve tried on my own before sent me into a deep depression, a result of the side effects.

    Now, with my doctor’s help, I am using the liquid version of prozac to wean off 3 mg/week. I am half way through and starting to feel less tired, which has been the main symptom this time. I am grateful, in light of the recent findings, that I was not on prozac both times I was pregnant. I find that the whole profession of therapy has changed since I was originally put on the drug–many of my friends simply ask their primary care physicians for prescriptions without any cognitive behavior therapy involved whatsoever, and this fact I consider extremely irresponsible on the part of the medical community. Apparently, the findings above and found elsewhere make it abundantly clear that we can never really know what a drug’s side effects are until at least 20 years and many studies have been done. Until then, medicate at your own risk! Especially when it comes to anything affecting the brain.

       0 likes

  26. angeles ruiz gomez says:

    Very important for pregnant woman .

       0 likes

  27. Alice says:

    In the absence of better performing drugs, SSRIs should continue to be prescribed. Since sudden discontinuation of the meds causes side effects, do not stop cold turkey. And really, why WOULD someone stop cold turkey? Outside of post partum depression, depression is usually a life-long disorder.
    Warnings on many meds include statements that rebound symptoms can occur. There are also many meds with warnings that withdrawal symptoms may occur. Sometimes meds do take over jobs that the body IS NOT performing; this is hardly unique to SSRIs.

    Depressed people often eat less than those who are non-depressed, so the loss in weight gain of babies from depressed moms does not surprise.

    Teens committing suicide is hardly anything related to SSRIs. Depression left untreated often robs a person of enough energy to kill themselves. Suicide happens when the person has been on the meds just long enough to feel more energy but is still depressed.

    Really, I am on the bandwagon for natural health except in the area of mental health. The repercussions from not taking these meds are too serious. You are doing a huge disservice to those who need SSRIs. Full disclosure is good, attacking meds is not.

       1 likes

  28. Michelle says:

    Babys does not have an apostrophe unless it is something the baby owns…
    Great article though. SSRIs help big pharma more than depressed people!

       0 likes

  29. Please take care of the SSRI Issue immediately! What is going on? We know that almost every
    agency in our government has been sold to the highest bidder, but we are strong in the social
    media now. We are keeping abreast of all of the underhanded solutions that are being suggested
    to today’s injustices. The poor women that have been subjected to these medications trusted you.
    We all trusted you. In the past, that is. Your decisions lately have done nothing but cause harm.

    Stop It Now and Protect Us Again! This Is Irresponsible At Best!

       0 likes

  30. Please take care of the SSRI Issue immediatel! What is going on? We know that almost every
    agency in our government has been sold to the highest bidder, but we are strong in the social
    media now. We are keeping abreast of all of the underhanded solutions that are being suggested
    to today’s injustices. The poor women that have been subjected to these medications trusted you.
    We all trusted you. In the past, that is. Your decisions lately have done nothing but cause harm.

    Stop It Now and Protect Us Again! This Is Irresponsible At Best!

       0 likes

  31. Suzanne says:

    Before a mother gets pregnant, they should be weaned off of drugs and taught to eat a healthful Weston A Price diet which will do the most for both the mother and the baby.

       0 likes

  32. joe says:

    only one of the presidential candidates is a M.D. wonder what he thinks

       0 likes

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