Recreational drug use is contraindicated during pregnancy. Duh! Well, the same is true for psychiatric drugs. A new study has shown not only many adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs in children, but that when used by expectant mothers, some of the most commonly used psychiatric drugs caused birth defects. This study was covered in a PsychCentral article, Psychiatric Medication Risk in Children.
“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy,” Associate Professor Lisa Aagard of the University of Copenhagen told ScienceDaily. Aagard and Professor Ebbe Holme Hansard collaborated in studying data from Danish Medicines Agency.
The data from this study has broken down reactions to psychiatric drugs according to the type of drug used.
When the severe side effects were broken down by medication class, the most frequent culprits were psychostimulants in 42% of the cases (medications like Ritalin, used most often for conditions such as ADD and ADHD), antidepressants (31%), and antipsychotics (24%). A smaller number (2.5%) were due to sedatives; these reactions were mostly in infants, and all were serious.
Much discussion has been generated about the screening of young women for postpartum depression. There is a definite downside to such screenings that doesn’t get so much airplay. I don’t think we need to encourage women to harm their children in an effort to keep their own good spirits up. The presumption should be of good health, mental and physical, for any woman expecting a child.
“Psychotropic medications should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances because this medication has a long half-life. If people take their medication as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child,” suggests Aagard.
Birth defects are seldom planned. You can do much to discourage birth defects by keeping your expectant mothers off psychiatric drugs.