In a new study published today at ScienceDirect, researchers concluded that Prenatal Depression restricts fetal growth. They also state that up to 18% of all pregnant women experience depression but when focusing specifically on lower socio-economic status and minority moms, the risk more than doubles to 40%. Babies born to depressed moms are more likely to have a smaller head circumference, low birthweight, arrive prematurely, and experience a certain level of growth retardation within their first year of life.
Many mothers, doctors, and family members will buy into the myth that all pregnant mothers are happy. Obviously the numbers beg to differ as do the mothers who experience depression during pregnancy. Moreso than mothers with Postnatal Mood Disorders, pregnant mothers struggling with depression or other mental illness face quite the quandary in seeking treatment. Many find themselves dismissed by their doctors or faced with taking anti-depressants which will affect their fetus as all medications do cross the placenta.
As with any decision, we must always remember to make an educated decision with the support of your physician and other professional advice. There are also risks v. benefits to consider. Yes, there are risks associated with taking medicine during pregnancy but most studies out there do not put this risk at a much higher rate than mothers who do not take anti-depressants.
There are resources for mothers and professionals alike to refer to when faced with this situation:
Mother Risk: A project of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, they are staffed and well informed regarding medications, herbs, etc, in pregnancy and the postpartum breastfeeding period.
University of Illinois @ Chicago Women’s Mental Health Program is designed to meet the unique needs of women with psychiatric disorders and life problems including during pregnancy and postpartum.
The Emory Women’s Mental Health Program, established in 1991, primarily focuses on the evaluation and treatment of emotional disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The clinical program is complemented by both clinical and laboratory research into the causes of these conditions and their treatment.
I also want to take this opportunity to promote an upcoming teleclass over at Pampered Pregger and Beyond with Tiffani Lawton and Shoshana Bennett. The class starts tomorrow at 11am EST and will be taking an in depth look at her new book, Pregnant on Prozac. I would highly recommend participating if this topic is near and dear to your heart. Registration at the site is not required but the call is a long distance one. Callers will be muted during discussion and unmuted for Q&A so if you have little ones running around, don’t worry – they won’t be interrupting the flow. For more information, click here.