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Use of Antidepressants in Pregnancy Has Increased

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in particular prescribed more frequently

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Antidepressant use by pregnant women increased from 2 percent in 1996 to 7.6 percent of deliveries in 2004 and 2005, according to a report published in the February issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Susan E. Andrade, of the Meyers Primary Care Institute in Worcester, Mass., and colleagues analyzed data from seven health plan databases to assess antidepressant use among mothers of 118,935 deliveries from 2001 to 2005, during which time 6.6 percent of the women were prescribed antidepressants.

There was an almost fourfold increase in prescriptions of antidepressants to pregnant women during the study period, yielding an estimated prevalence of antidepressant use higher than the rate reported in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors increased from 1.5 percent in 1996 to 6.4 percent in 2004 and 6.2 percent in 2005.

"Our results highlight the importance of understanding the effects of antidepressants on both the developing fetus and the pregnant woman," the authors write. "Further research is urgently needed to evaluate the potential differential effects of antidepressant agents to assist prescribers and patients in making informed treatment decisions."

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