Ah, the release of this study makes it perfectly clear why we had the flurry of "pregnant women need to continue to take their antidepressants" coverage. Never doubt that Pharma has ability to make a preemptive strike to try and water down bad news.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nearly one in three infants born to women taking
anti-depressant drugs exhibit signs of withdrawal and expectant
mothers may want to limit the drugs they take, researchers said on
Symptoms such as high-pitched crying, tremors, gastrointestinal
problems and disturbed sleep may show up in the first 48 hours after
birth and were more pronounced in infants whose mothers had been
taking higher doses.
A closer look at the 37 infants exposed in the womb to paroxetine
hydrochloride, sold as Paxil by GlaxoSmithKline, showed the risk of
symptoms disappeared if the mother's dosage was less than 20
milligrams daily while the risk was highest among those exposed to
27 milligrams or more.
Thirty percent of the 60 newborns exposed to one of the popular
class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs) in the womb were found to have withdrawal symptoms and the
symptoms were classified as severe in 13 percent, said the study by
Dr. Rachel Levinson-Castiel of the Children's Medical Center of
Israel, in Petah Tiqwa.
Symptoms usually did not peak until after the first day of life but
the long-term effects are not known, the study said.
Two of the exposed infants suffered seizures but they did not
Previous studies into the effects of SSRIs on newborns have
identified other symptoms such as rapid breathing, bluish skin color
from lack of oxygen, feeding difficulties, low blood sugar and
Yet a study published last week by researchers at Massachusetts
General Hospital in Boston said women who need an antidepressant
cannot depend on hormonal changes in pregnancy to relieve their
symptoms so may choose to continue taking the drug.
"Because maternal depression during pregnancy also entails a risk to
the newborn, the risk-benefit ratio of continuing SSRI treatment
should be assessed," Levinson-Castiel wrote in the journal Archives
of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Unfortunately, "the long-term effects of in utero exposure to SSRIs
have not been demonstrated clearly," not even for those whose
symptoms were severe early on, she wrote.
Both studies recommended pregnant women simplify their drug regimen
to a single drug at the lowest effective dose.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.