New study showing links with antidepressant use and birth defects

A common class of antidepressants- SSRI's (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) have been suspected by many as being unsafe in pregnancy.  Studies have been done and papers published with varying results.  This recent paper concluded that the use of the popular drugs Paxil, and Prozac, aka Sarafem, in pregnancy, correlate with higher rates of birth defects. These drugs were never studied in pregnant women before their wide spread use.  This is a tricky thing about research that many people do not understand.  It can be very frustrating for a pregnant woman to get a straight answer about whether drugs will affect her developing child.  This is because clinical trials of drugs with pregnant women simply are not done.  If we do not know if the drug will harm a baby, how do we ethically enroll pregnant women in a study on them?  And then there is the liability.  Drug companies do not like to get sued.  Intentionally testing a drug, which might harm an unborn child, is something they would like to avoid.  Doctors, faced with pregnant patients whom they feel need medication, have very little information to help their patients decide.  This leaves pregnant women with a tough choice between medicating themselves, and possibly exposing their child to risk, or suffering from sometimes debilitating conditions.  If they choose the drugs, they, and their babies become guinea pigs.  

So what we have is a long list of drugs, which were not tested in pregnant women, but are used by them without the kind of data gathering which takes place in clinical trials.  This means it can take years, even decades to discover the terrible consequences of those drugs.

With all things in health I want us to have the information we need to make educated choices.  More studies like the one I linked above can be done to track the women who do choose to use medications in pregnancy so we can learn how their children fair.

So what is a mother to do?  Torn between suffering with a health condition, and the worry of possibly harming their child if they take a drug.  My advice, don't take chances.  Seek a knowledgeable, qualified, alternative healthcare practitioner who has treatments which we know are safe for moms and babies.  

My preference is to use herbs, homeopathy, Bach flower remedies , physical medicine, hydrotherapy, and other therapies which have stood the test of time.  We have been using herbs, acupuncture, and Ayurvedic medicine in pregnancy for thousands and thousands of years.  We have a very good idea of what effects they may or may not have on a pregnant mother and developing baby.  Drugs which have been on the market a few years to even a few decades are simply too new for me to trust.