Antidepressant Medication Use in Pregnancy

Barbara Hackley, CNM, MSN


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010;55(2):90-100. 

In This Article


The appropriate treatment of depression is critical to both the short- and long-term health of women and their children. Untreated maternal depression in pregnancy has been found to be associated with higher rates of spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, poor maternal responsiveness to infant cues, suicidal attempts, and postpartum depression.[25,36] It is also associated with significantly higher rates of psychopathology in children as old as 18 years of age who were born to mothers with depression.[25,64]

Because of concerns about the safety of antidepressants in pregnancy, women have inappropriately stopped taking antidepressants without counsel from their health care provider.[65] However, treatment can improve the lives of both mothers and their children. Remission rates for individuals receiving appropriate care have been reported to be as high as 76%.[66] Children of mothers who have received appropriate care also see improvements in their mental health. A prospective study of 151 mother–child pairs found that children of women who were treated with medication to remission had fewer new psychiatric diagnoses over the course of the study and those with psychiatric diagnosis at baseline had significantly higher remission rates than those whose mothers did not experience remission.[67] Women need not fear treatment; rather, with appropriate counsel and care from their health care provider, women can receive care that will enhance the well-being of both themselves and their families.


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