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The debate about whether or not it’s safe for women to take antidepressants during pregnancy has been ongoing for years — and new research now presents a major health risk with this regard. Professor Stephen Pilling, expert adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), tells the BBC that for women who have only mild to moderate depression, antidepressants aren’t worth the risk to their developing child. Pilling notes that the newest evidence suggests that popular SSRIs may double the risk of a baby being born with a heart defect. Pilling goes on to say that unless a mother-to-be is suffering from severe depression, she should seriously reconsider taking antidepressants. This news comes just after a study last year found that third-trimester use of SSRIs in pregnant women may be linked to a wide array of problems in newborns, including continuous crying, irritability, jitteriness, and/or restlessness, shivering, fever, tremors, hypertonia or rigidity, tachypnea or respiratory distress, feeding difficulty, sleep disturbance, hypoglycemia, and seizures. When weighing the risks of taking antidepressants, you should note that the Mayo Clinic, among other health organizations, advises that ignoring depression during pregnancy is unwise. Untreated depression can be harmful too, resulting in a mom-to-be lacking the energy to care for herself, avoiding prenatal care or healthy foods and relying on coping mechanisms such as drinking or smoking. Depression during pregnancy is a complicated, but very real issue, and if you’re feeling depressed you should speak with your midwife or doctor right away.

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