Antidepressants May Affect Head Size of Newborns

Women who are pregnant and taking certain antidepressants may be more likely to deliver an infant with reduced head growth, according to a new study.

According to HealthDay News, the study also discovered that although SSRI drugs, such as Prozac and Paxil, are helpful at relieving depression in women, the drugs appear to be linked to a higher risk of preterm birth.

The lead researcher, Hannan El Marroun, said, “Fetal body growth is a marker of fetal health and fetal head growth is a marker for brain development.  We found prenatal exposure to SSRIs was associated with decreased growth of the head, but not decreased growth of the body”

The investigation found that in mothers with untreated depression, the babies had smaller growth in both the head and the body.

According to the lead researcher, “If the depression is untreated, it affected the whole body; but if the mother used SSRIs, the head growth of the fetus was affected.  This may mean that smaller head growth is not explained by depression, but by the SSRIs.”

The findings of the study suggest that an imbalance in the brain’s serotonin is not good for the developing brain of an infant.

El Marroun stated that the long-term development of these children is unknown.   She also suggested that doctors might be prescribing SSRIs too often, as there may be alternatives for pregnant women.