When it comes to taking antidepressants in pregnancy, women and their doctors have a difficult decision to make. Depression in pregnancy and following childbirth (the postpartum period) is common and has potentially serious consequences. Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death in the UK.
However, a number of studies over the past ten years have reported problems associated with taking antidepressants during pregnancy. These include impacts on the pregnancy, such as early delivery and lower birth weight; increased rates of malformations, such as heart problems in the baby; and an increased risk of autism in children. A paper published in JAMA adds to the evidence. It found that exposure to antidepressants in the womb is associated with a modest increased risk of speech and language disorders.