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Antidepressants linked to neurological damage in newborns


Photo Credit: Ginny Washburne

Derived From: Natural News
Original Author: Amy Goodrich

Although pregnancy is viewed by most as a time to joyously anticipate the welcoming of a new life into the world, a rising number of new moms or moms-to-be struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Depression during pregnancy is not to be taken lightly. It is a severe medical condition that poses a significant risk for mother and baby. Currently, medical guidelines suggest non-pharmacological interventions, such as psychotherapy, as a first-line treatment. However, oftentimes patients are prescribed antidepressants instead.

Multiple studies have linked antidepressant use during pregnancy to a number of side-effects, including an increased risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, infant convulsions, autism, cardiovascular defects, excessive brain fluid at birth, smaller head size, and other congenital and developmental defects, as noted by Mad In America.

SRI antidepressants change electrical activity in the brain

It is estimated that somewhere between 6 and 15 percent of all women use an antidepressant during their pregnancy, with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) being the most commonly prescribed.

While these drugs are considered safe to use during pregnancy by the medical world, scientific papers are showing an entirely different story.

A new, groundbreaking study from researchers associated with the BABA center at the University of Helsinki’s Children’s Hospital in Finland, has for the first time in history recorded the effects of SRI exposure on the electrical activity of newborns’ brains.

The study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, involved 22 mothers using SRI drugs and 62 controls without medication, and found a link between fetal SRI drug exposure and less organized communication between the baby’s brain hemispheres, as well as weaker synchronization between cortical rhythms.

What’s more, the negative effects seem to outlast the known withdrawal period that is commonly seen in newborns exposed to SRIs in the womb.

“We found many changes in the brain activity of SRI-exposed newborns,” says Professor Sampsa Vanhatalo, head of the BABA center at the Helsinki University Children’s Hospital. “Since the changes did not correlate with the mother’s psychiatric symptoms, we have assumed that they resulted as a side effect of maternal drug treatment.”

“This is the first study to show that prenatal SRI exposure in humans can affect the newborn cortical function beyond the acute withdrawal period,” the team concludes. “Our detailed quantitative, computational EEG analyses indicated SRI-related effects in both focal and global brain activity.”

Need for effective alternative treatments

Despite the current guidelines that recommend non-pharmacological therapies, and the living proof of the dangerous effects of antidepressants on a child’s developing brain, antidepressants are still the preferred treatment. And not only for pregnant women.

According to the IMS Health Vector One National database, more than two million developing U.S. children aged between 0 and 17 were prescribed antidepressants in 2013. Of these children, 26,406 were less than a year old.

“The current guidelines do include non-pharmacological therapies as the first-line treatment,” said Outi Mantere from McGill University, Canada. “If the mother using an SRI plans a pregnancy, it would be advisable to consider a close follow-up or a therapeutic intervention without SRI medication. Recent experience with group therapy has shown promise in treating depression or anxiety during pregnancy, with effects that extend to the wellbeing of both mother and baby.”

“We hope that our study will facilitate the current international discussion and search for effective alternatives in the treatment of depression and anxiety during pregnancy,” adds Professor Vanhatalo, as reported by EurekAlert.

Given the proof of developmental defects, as well as the self-harm and violent side effects associated with antidepressant use both during pregnancy and later in the child’s life, one may ask why these drugs are still prescribed to pregnant women and children alike.

“The question, of course, is no longer whether antidepressants are harmful but, rather, how much more damning research will be necessary before regulators take action to remove them from the market,” said Kelly Patricia O’Meara, writing for the CCHR International.

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