Just Another Teachin’ Tuesday: Psychotropics & Pregnancy? Uh, no!

The potential dangers of a woman using psychotropic medications during her pregnancy make perfect sense. But the medical and scientific communities look to research studies before deeming anything fact.

Well, the results of a brand new study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen provide a lot of “fact.” They suggest the use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy, indeed, increase the probability of birth defects. The work was published in the open access journal, BMC Research Notes.

This is quite a piece of research, as it was conducted over a nine year period, ending in 2007. How ’bout this – psychotropic meds were linked to 429 “adverse drug reactions” in Danish children under the age of 17. And more than half of these were deemed “serious,” several involving birth defects such as deformities and severe withdrawal symptoms. Here’s a bit of a breakdown…

  • 42% involved psychostimulants, often prescribed for ADHD
  • 31% involved antidepressants
  • 24% involved antipsychotics (not atypicals)

According to Associate Professor, Lisa Aagaard…

“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy.”

“Psychotropic medication should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances, because this type of medication has a long half-life. If people take their medicine as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage, and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child.”

I wouldn’t think any of us are surprised by the study’s findings. But I suppose some sort of “seal of confirmation” is a good thing. However, it’s vitally important that we don’t loose the real gist of the work.

It’s a woman’s right to be fully informed as to the potential for pregnancy-related trouble if she uses psychotropic medications.

These days, the dangers of smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy are common knowledge. And that’s because we, as a collective society, made sure the truth was disseminated. It’s time we did the same for the dangers of using psychotropic medications during pregnancy.

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