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SSRI drugs found to cause osteoporosis in pregnant mothers


(NaturalNews) Taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy and breast feeding to treat depression, can lead to decreased bone density in mothers, according to a study presented at the Endocrine Society's 98th annual meeting in Boston.

"SSRIs are the most widely prescribed class of antidepressants, particularly during pregnancy and breast-feeding," said Laura Hernandez, PhD, the principal investigator of the study and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we explore the possibility that SSRIs may have detrimental effects on long-term maternal bone health," she added.

SSRIs work by increasing a feel good chemical in the brain known as serotonin. People with clinical depression have lower levels of serotonin. SSRIs block the reuptake of seratonin, allowing the substance to remain in the synaptic space in-between the neurons. There are many SSRIs sold under various brand names, including Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and Luvox, to name just a few.

SSRIs can only manage the symptoms of depression, but do not treat the underlying cause of the condition. The factors that underpin depression are far more complex than simply low levels of serotonin in the brain. What antidepressants do is cut off the root of emotions. In some instances, antidepressants actually worsen the symptoms of depression, and have been linked to various school shootings, suicides and suicide attempts.

SSRIs and bone loss

Previous studies suggest that SSRIs can decrease bone mineral density and increase the risk of bone fracture in both adolescents and adults. Even without taking antidepressants, women tend to lose 6 to 10 percent of their bone density while nursing, most likely because calcium in breast milk is derived from calcium in the bones. It takes about a year to restore bone loss after women stop breastfeeding; however, recent research suggests that mothers who breastfeed for lengthier periods of time are more likely to lose bone density post menopause.

Hernandez and her team set out to investigate whether SSRIs increase bone loss during lactation. They gave fluoxetine, an SSRI sold under the brand name Prozac, to six mice during pregnancy and lactation in addition to their normal diet, and contrasted them with six female mice that received saline instead of the drug.

Two other groups of six mice were fed a diet supplemented with a high dose of folic acid before breeding, and then given fluoxetine or saline during pregnancy and lactation. The amount of folic acid administered was on par with the dose recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of birth defects.

During the tenth day of lactation, the authors of the study reviewed the bone mineral density of the mice's femurs, and tested gene expression in the rodents' mammary glands. Both mice groups that were given fluoxetine had increased serotonin reuptake near the mammary gland, which appeared to activate bone resorption (breakdown).

In particular, the fluoxetine-fed mice had lower levels of osteocalcin – a protein found in the bone – in their femurs, when compared to the saline-fed mice. In addition, fluoxetine-fed mice had higher amounts of macrophage colony, which causes bone breakdown.

Don't break a leg with antidepressants

The high dose of folic acid appeared to reverse the SSRI effects on bone loss, according to the authors of the study. Hernandez noted that women who are breastfeeding may need more folic acid to fight against bone loss.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat depression naturally. In many cases, depression is simply a side-effect of inadequate nutrition. To learn more about how you can improve your physical and mental wellbeing through healthy eating, be sure to check out this year's Food Revolution Summit. Reserve your spot for this FREE online event here.

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