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Antidepressants consumed during pregnancy lead to longer umbilical cords... which means less oxygen for your baby


(NaturalNews) Although most people consider pregnancy a time of happiness and joy, that's not the reality for all mothers-to-be. Depression affects up to 19 percent of pregnant women. Approximately 7 to 9 percent of expectant mothers consume antidepressants during pregnancy.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. According to a recently published study in the journal PLOS ONE, use of SSRI antidepressants may result in a lengthening of the umbilical cord during pregnancy.

A longer and thinner umbilical cord may weaken the fetal circulation, and can deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrients during pregnancy or birth. It also increases the risk of preterm birth, or of the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby's neck, among other problems in the later stages of pregnancy and labor.

According to another study, longer umbilical cords may also cause brain imaging abnormalities and abnormal neurological development in children.

SSRIs increase fetal activity

The length of the umbilical cord is affected by how much the growing fetus moves in the uterus. "When the fetus moves, the umbilical cord stretches and eventually gets longer," says PhD student Julia Kivisto, the first author of the study.

According to researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, who conducted the study, this newly observed association between SSRI use and umbilical cord length may indicate that SSRI drugs increase the activity and movement of the unborn baby in the uterus.

The researchers monitored over 24,000 women who gave birth at Kuopio University Hospital between 2002 and 2012. Of the women tested, 416 consumed antidepressants during their pregnancy, with citalopram as the most commonly used SSRI drug.

They analyzed the effects SSRI drugs have on the course of pregnancy, fetal development and birth outcome. Compared to other women, mothers who used citalopram during pregnancy had significantly longer umbilical cords. A similar association could not be made with other brands of SSRIs, since the number of participants taking antidepressants other than citalopram was too small to be considered reliable.

SSRIs not only affect umbilical cord length

Furthermore, this study confirmed the results of previous studies regarding the effects of SSRIs on pregnancy. The researchers reported that newborn children of mothers who took SSRI drugs during pregnancy scored less on the Apgar test which is performed at one minute and five minutes after birth. The test determines how well the baby tolerated the birthing process and how well the baby is doing outside the mother's womb.

They also note that children of mothers who consumed SSRI drugs during pregnancy were more likely to end up in intensive care than other newborns.

Although there are some risks associated with antidepressant use during pregnancy, the risk of untreated depression may be even greater for some women. However, antidepressants are not the only option to treat depression. All the risks and benefits must be evaluated for each mother.

"Depression, both when left untreated and when treated with drugs, causes some changes to the course of pregnancy and birth. This is why it is extremely important to carefully consider the individual situation of each patient when choosing the treatment," Kivisto suggested.

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