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Antidepressant use during pregnancy linked to childhood speech impediments


(NaturalNews) Pregnancy can be hard for many women. But the seemingly innocuous use of antidepressant drugs during those long-haul days of morning sickness and strange food cravings could have negative developmental effects on their unborn children, even long after these little ones exit the womb.

A new study out of Columbia University, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, has revealed that women who take what are commonly marketed as mood-lifting pharmaceuticals while pregnant, could be sentencing their babies to a lifetime of speaking troubles, as the drugs appear to greatly increase a child's risk of developing speech or language impediments.

Professor Alan Brown from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, looked at a popular class of drug known as selective serotonin reuptate inhibitors, or SSRIs, which are often used by women troubled by a rough pregnancy. Drugs like fluoxetine, paroxetine and citalopram were included as part of the research – these being among the most commonly used SSRIs on the market.

Based on a sampling of nearly 850,000 children born between 1996 and 2010 in Finland, Prof. Brown compared speech outcomes among children born to mothers who used SSRIs during pregnancy and those born to mothers who did not.

He evaluated expectant mothers who purchased an SSRI at least once before or during pregnancy; those who used the drug for a psychiatric disorder diagnosed one year before or during pregnancy; as well as those who neither used SSRIs nor had a psychiatric diagnosis before or during pregnancy.

In the end, Prof. Brown discovered that those mothers who used SSRIs during pregnancy were significantly more likely to bear children with speech impediments compared to those who didn't use the drugs. This was especially true among mothers who purchased more than one SSRI during pregnancy.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship between maternal anti-depressant use and speech or language, scholastic, and motor disorders in offspring," Prof. Brown told the Express.

"The study benefited from large sample population and followed the children beyond age three."

Depression apart from SSRI use a risk factor for speech disorders

On a sliding risk scale, children born to mothers with depression who took SSRIs at least twice during pregnancy were found to be 37 percent more likely than children born to mothers with depression who did not take SSRIs to develop speech problems. The same children were found to be 63 percent more likely than children born to mothers without depression and who didn't take SSRIs to develop speech problems.

This suggests that depression alone is a risk factor for unborn children, though not nearly as high as for children whose mothers also take SSRIs. And while researchers can't say for sure why this is the case, they surmise that the drugs somehow inhibit the normal brain development of a baby during pregnancy.

As to what an expectant mother suffering from depression should do instead, one option is to take advantage of the mood-lifting benefits of essential oil aromatherapy. Essential oils like lemon and lavender can help ease the mind, calm stress and lift one's spirits.

As for antidepressant use, Prof. Brown and others urge caution and careful consideration of the potential side effects involved, especially if symptoms are relatively mild. If symptoms are more extreme, such as feelings of suicide or losing touch with reality, it might be best to consult with a qualified physician.

An earlier study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics identified a link between SSRI use during pregnancy and autism in children. As is the case with speech disorders, SSRIs interfere with proper brain cell development in unborn children, which can have lasting effects on their cognitive and mental stability.

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