Taking Zoloft In Pregnancy

Can It Cause Birth Defects? 

Taking Zoloft in pregnancy may put your baby at risk of birth defects.

What Is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a prescription medication used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other conditions.

It belongs in the class of psychiatric medications called SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) that work by interacting with the chemicals in the brain - in this case the neurotransmitter serotonin- to relieve a variety of psychiatric symptoms caused by depression, anxiety, OCD, and other conditions.

The Risk Of Birth Defects In Mothers Who Take Zoloft

However, there is some controversy regarding taking antidepressants during pregnancy due to an increased risk of birth defects and an increased risk of miscarriage.

For example, some birth defects that are associated with taking Zoloft during pregnancy are heart defects, Craniosynostosis (premature closing of cranial sutures often resulting in abnormal head shape), Anencephaly (neural tube fails to close resulting in open cranium/skull), and Omphalocele (when the baby's intestine or other abdominal organs protrude from belly button or navel).

In addition, Zoloft and other SSRI's have been associated with a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in newborns called PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn), particularly when taken during the last half of pregnancy. Further, studies indicate that a combination of different antidepressants doubled the risk of miscarriages.

The Bottom Line About Taking Zoloft In Pregnancy

zoloft in pregnancy

If you are taking Zoloft and become pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, meet with your doctor in order to discuss your treatment options.

Often, milder forms of depression can be managed with additional therapy or other, less potentially dangerous, treatment methods.

However, if your depression is severe, you have a recent history of depression, or you a history of severe depression, the risk of depressive relapse in pregnant patients may be greater than the possible health risks to developing fetuses.

In such cases, Zoloft consumers may decide, in conjunction with their psychiatrist and gynecologist, to remain on their medication during their pregnancy.

In the end, the advantages and disadvantages of a Zoloft pregnancy should be weighed carefully on a case-by-case basis. Consult with all of your doctors in order to help determine the least risky course of action for both mother and the developing fetus.

It goes without saying that open communication with your treating mental health professional is paramount to help ensure the safety of you and your baby. 

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