Study: Antidepressants taken during pregnancy increases preterm birth risk

Antidepressant medications taken by pregnant women are associated with increased rates of preterm birth, according to a new research. 
The finding reinforces the notion that antidepressants should not be used by pregnant women in the absence of a clear need that cannot be met through alternative approaches, said researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University, MetroWest Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center. 
“Preterm birth is a major clinical problem throughout the world and rates have been increasing over the past two decades,” said lead author Krista Huybrechts, from the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 
“At the same time, rates of antidepressant use during pregnancy have increased approximately four-fold. Therefore it is essential to determine what effects these medications have on pregnancy,” Huybrechts said. 
Huybrechts and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies that evaluated women who took antidepressants during pregnancy and had information on gestational age at birth. 
“We studied 41 papers on this topic and found that the available scientific evidence is becoming clearer that antidepressant use in pregnancy is associated with preterm birth,” said senior author Adam Urato, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at Tufts Medical Center and MetroWest Medical Center. 
“The complication of preterm birth did not appear to be due to the maternal depression but rather it appears likely to be a medication effect,” Urato said. 
Of the 41 studies which the authors reviewed, the majority showed increased rates of preterm birth in patients taking antidepressants. 
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