Ruta Nonacs, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health, posted a very important blog post yesterday regarding a large new study published in the British Medical Journal regarding SSRI’s (the type of antidepressant medication very commonly prescribed) and venlafaxine (marketed as Effexor in the US). The study focused on children in five Nordic countries and their exposure to any SSRI and venlafaxine. They were looking at whether babies born to moms who take these antidepressants during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects.
According to Dr. Nonacs, “To summarize, this large Nordic study found no substantial increase in the overall prevalence of birth defects among infants exposed to SSRIs or venlafaxine in utero.” And we’d point out that this study looked at more than 2 million births in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. TWO. MILLION.
This study, in addition to having a large size with an even larger control group, also “… restricted the study population to women with at least two children and were able to conduct sibling controlled analyses by looking at sibling pairs who were discordant for exposure to SSRIs or venlafaxine.” (source: MGH blog)
A quick Google search for any news of this study being reported by mainstream media provided no results. Surprising, given that the study was published in mid-April. We looked everywhere, considering this would be huge news to the hundreds of thousands of women who are pregnant and unsure how to treat their mental health issues. It seems the media would prefer we continue to believe antidepressants and other medications for mental health are harmful.
Granted, we should all do our due diligence when taking meds that may affect the precious little ones in our lives. But we also need to take care of ourselves and not allow fear-mongering to prevent us from doing so when research aplenty has proven that we can do so without greatly increasing risk to the most precious little folks in our worlds.
But it seems, for now, we can breathe a little easier when we do need to take our meds to keep ourselves moving forward through life. And this, this is a good thing.