The link between antidepressants and birth defects has been a point of hot contention for some time now. SSRIs and SSNRIs ranging from the obscure to the highly popular and iconic have been linked to a number of conditions such as clubbed feet, heart defects, exposed internal organs and even premature death in the womb. Some advocates insist these numbers are low, but other studies indicate that the incidence of events has doubled, which is a staggering increase.
Regardless of which side of the frequency fence you sit on, the fact that there is the potential for a problem is indisputable. Recent evidence suggests that it may get worse before it gets better.
According to news agency Reuters, a study of 1,500 U.S. citizens diagnosed with depression showed that a staggering 80 percent of them preferred treatment with antidepressants to talking therapy with a counselor. The most common drugs of choice were older generation SSRIs such as Prozac, which is one of the drugs linked to the formation of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) in infants whose mothers took the medicine during pregnancy.
Interestingly, the study also looked at the efficacy of treatment. It showed that for those patients that did seek out talking therapy and counseling as opposed to medication, recovery rates were very similar to those who chose an SSRI. This is sobering news, because it implies there is some kind of disproportionate representation somehow. For some reason, Americans prefer medication. This could be because of advertisements of the pills on television, or a culture that is becoming more accepting of those who require medical treatment for legitimate mood disorders. Whatever the reason, 80 percent isn’t simply a majority — it’s an overwhelming majority. If the trend continues, it is clear that there is going to have to be some kind of campaign to make sure mothers prescribed these medicines are informed of their options and the risks involved.