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Antidepressants Linked to Miscarriages

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Researchers at the University of Montreal have linked use of antidepressants by pregnant women to miscarriages.

The study found that pregnant women taking antidepressant prescription medications for depression and anxiety, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and the older tricyclics, are at increased risk for miscarriages than those who do not use antidepressants.

Researchers documented that patients taking SSRIs paroxetine marketed by GlaxoSmithKline as Paxil and venlafaxine marketed by Pfizer as Effexor were at the greatest risk. Risk also increased with higher drug dosage.

According to an article by HealthDay featured in U.S. News & World Report, antidepressants may increase miscarriage risk by 68%.

"These results, which suggest an overall class effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are highly robust given the large number of users studied," writes senior author Dr. Anick Bérard, from the University of Montreal and the Director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine.

Antidepressant use during pregnancy is quite common, in 2003 about 13% of women took an antidepressant at some point during their pregnancy, says a Time article.

The study appears in the May 31, 2010 online edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

"I would certainly advise against using Paxil and Effexor early on in pregnancy," Bérard told HealthDay. "This doesn’t mean women can’t use antidepressants; there are others on the market. Planning pregnancy and actually choosing which type of therapy beforehand is an option."

Women who are pregnant or about to become pregnant, and who are taking antidepressants should discuss concerns with their doctor and weigh the benefits and risks before discontinuing any medications.