Mothers on Antidepressants Are Less Likely to Breast-Feed: Study

TUESDAY March 13, 2012 -- Women who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, or SSRIs, during pregnancy are much less likely to breast-feed their babies, researchers have found.

The new study was conducted by researchers associated with the Connecticut Pregnancy Exposure Information Service (CPEIS), a state-funded service that provides women with information about exposures during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

The study authors analyzed data from 466 pregnant women who contacted the CPEIS' California affiliate over 10 years with questions about a wide variety of exposures.

The results showed that women who took an SSRI at any time during pregnancy were about 60 percent less likely to breast-feed than women who took no antidepressants.

"While the benefits of breast-feeding an infant are very clear, this study suggests that women who are taking antidepressants in pregnancy are not engaging in this behavior as often as we would like to see," study co-author Christina Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, said in a CPEIS news release.

"Whether this is due to the mother's fear of harming her baby by breast-feeding while taking the medication or due to the mother's depression itself is unclear," she added.

The study was published online in the February issue of the Journal of Human Lactation.

The findings show that women who take SSRIs during pregnancy require additional breast-feeding education and support, said CPEIS coordinator Sharon Voyer Lavigne.

"Our goal is to provide accurate, up-to-date information on breast-feeding while on medications," Voyer Lavigne said in the news release. "This allows the woman to weigh the benefits of the treatment for her with the potential risks for her infant."

CPEIS is based at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health has more about depression during and after pregnancy.

Posted: March 2012


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