SSRI use in pregnancy : evaluating the risks and benefits

Du Toit, El. ; Thomas, E. ; Koen, L. ; Vythilingum, B. ; Grobler, S. ; Smith, N. ; Niehaus, D. (2015)

CITATION: Du Toit, E., et al. 2015. SSRI use in pregnancy : evaluating the risks and benefits. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 22(2):48-53, doi:10.7196/SAJP.587.

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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are considered the primary pharmacological treatment for moderate to severe depression during pregnancy. Data regarding the safety of their use during pregnancy remain controversial and conflicting. Decisions regarding the prescription of antidepressant treatment are often fraught with concern around potential harmful medication effects on the pregnancy, fetus and infant. Information on potential risks remains extremely varied and inconsistent across sources. This lack of clarity regarding drug safety brings significant uncertainty not only for treating physicians, but also for women seeking information about depression during pregnancy. This review aims to summarise and evaluate the current evidence base and to aid clinicians in performing a risk/benefit analysis for SSRI use during pregnancy and lactation.

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