Care urged for depressed pregnant women

March 8, 2006 at 6:28 PM
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BOSTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Pregnant women who suffer from depression should be cautious both in using and avoiding antidepressants, the Harvard Mental Health Letter says.

The federal Food and Drug Administration reported recently that Paxil appears to increase the risk of birth defects if used during the early months of pregnancy, and said that infants born to mothers who have been taking it may suffer from temporary withdrawal symptoms.

"Women with milder depression may want to gradually reduce the dose of medication and rely on psychotherapy and family support from the time they try to get pregnant until the middle of the pregnancy," said Dr. Michael Miller, the editor in chief. "But that may not be a good choice for women with moderate to severe depression. For them, antidepressant treatment may sometimes be necessary."

Mothers to be with untreated depression are more likely to miss appointments with their doctors, drink alcohol and have low birth weight babies, Miller said.

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