Following the story this weekend on abcnews.com which quoted me on the dangers of antidepressants for babies, I was contacted by a producer with ABC.
I later sent this (along with some other extensive information / research) point / counterpoint analysis to her. I am not sure if they are going to use any of it. I do not have time at the moment to publish all the pictures or attached studies but I will update the article with the photos etc. as soon as I can. Nor do I have time to publish all the other resarch I did. Just wanted everyone to be aware of how the media story quoted people who twisted things, and how the media is currently under the impression that the medical community believes things like “antidepressants are safe for pregnant women” which is something I discussed with an ABC producer on the phone.
OK seriously now I am getting off the blog and going back to the things I have to get done today!
Point / Counterpoint On ABC Article Versus What the ACOG Release Actually Says:
The main thing missing from the ACOG report is any discussion of the questionable efficacy of antidepressants. No antidepressant is , and this report ignores last year’s revelations from A report by Dr. Erick Turner in the NEJM (Jan. 17 2008), that the studies which were negative on antidepressant efficacy went largely unpublished, or were published in a way to convey a positive outcome even though the FDA considered the studies negative or questionable. This NEJM report showed that antidepressants may be far less effective than once thought. Previously it seemed as if 94% of trials on antidepressants were positive, but when the unpublished studies were included, that number fell to 51%. 31% of all studies went unpublished. approved for pregnancy
Another study in PLOS medicine (Feb. 2008) by Irving Kirsch et al found that when the unpublished data from those studies was included, the benefit of antidepressants fell below the accepted criteria for clinical significance. It states that there is only a modest benefit over placebo for antidepressants. The report showed that in severely depressed patients, the very small difference between placebo and antidepressants was attributed to a decreased response to placebo rather than an increased response to antidepressants.
This is confirmation of what
Does everyone in the medical community agree that there are “no risks” to the baby with medications?
The on-call OBGYN mentioned in this story knew about Effexor babies & warned the NICU to get ready when he found out the woman whose baby he was going to deliver had been on Effexor.
The doctor who delivered this baby, Matthew, who died 2 hours after birth, was unaware of the dangers before, but he no longer prescribes antidepressants to pregnant women. In fact, he is helping the parents get in touch with certain other experts in order to investigate antidepressants during pregnancy.
POINT / COUNTERPOINT from ABC article / ACOG Release
“No scientific data” to support fetal abnormalities and death? Selected quote from doctor in ABC article conflicts with ACOG press release on risks to the baby
“But Dr. Ruta Nonacs, a psychiatrist with the Perinatal and Reproductive Psychiatry Clinical Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said there is no scientific data to support that treating mothers with antidepressants leads to an increased risk of fetal abnormalities or death.”
Clearly Dr. Nonacs has not read FDA warnings on antidepressants and has not seen the MedWatch data showing the TOTAL REPORTS OF FETAL AND INFANT INJURIES AND DEATHS = 7,083! See attached chart showing 1,057 abortions, miscarriages and other deaths, 511 premature births, 2,730 heart disease cases, and 2,785 other birth defects from FDA’s MedWatch for psychotropic drugs from 200(summary file attached) – (link).
Moreover, Dr. Nonacs must not have read the ACOG press release, which states:
“Both depression symptoms and the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy have been associated with negative consequences for the newborn…some studies have linked fetal malformations, cardiac defects, pulmonary hypertension, and reduced birth weight to antidepressant use during pregnancy.”
“Complications” vs. Fatal Birth Defects
“We’re not in favor of women taking [antidepressants] when they’re pregnant,” said Amy Philo, co-founder of Children and Adults Against Drugging America (CHAADA) and momsandmeds.com. “I don’t know how people can logically believe that feeling sad when you’re pregnant is going to cause [complications].”
The quote I gave to Radha was “feeling depressed or being sad” while pregnant…
Some of the complications I listed off to Radha that were not mentioned, but which are shown in the attached NEJM study as confirmed risks of antidepressants to babies, were , , and .
That’s the organs of the gut remaining outside the body in a sac at birth, requiring surgery; the bones in the skull fusing together early requiring cranial surgery; and the lack of a forebrain and sometimes lack of a skull closing over the brain, which is 100% fatal.
(NEJM Study / sample photos of what these devastating & serious / sometimes fatal birth defects actually look like attached.)
The only possible way being depressed could cause complications would be through stress hormones. According to Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, an internal Eli Lilly study (which she documents in her book, Prozac, Panacea or Pandora? Our Serotonin Nightmare) showed that a dose of Prozac doubles cortisol, so antidepressants wouldn’t really help there.
However I find it extremely difficult to believe that depression itself could cause some of these birth defects, which is what I told Radha. How could being depressed cause omphalocele, anencephaly, or craniosynostosis in the baby? Just look up and serotonin smooth muscle constriction to understand how artificially elevating serotonin affects the baby’s development. Serotonin excess has also been linked to SIDS / brain abnormalities.
Quote from NEJM article attached: “Maternal SSRI use was associated with anencephaly (214 infants, 9 exposed; adjusted odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1 to 5.1), craniosynostosis (432 infants, 24 exposed; adjusted odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.5 to 4.0), and omphalocele (181 infants, 11 exposed; adjusted odds ratio, 2.8; 95% CI,
1.3 to 5.7).”
Again, many doctors disagree with medication- Sevlie’s own OBGYN recommended monitoring instead of meds:
” “I didn’t take [medication] when I was pregnant because I didn’t know there were any options,” said Sevlie, whose obstetrician recommended monitoring when she told him how she felt.”
ABC says fetuses can be affected:
“But taking antidepressants also pose risks since a fetus can be affected by any substance a mother introduces to her body.”
“Today, the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a collaborative report that sums up past research and is the first to offer concrete guidelines for treating depression in pregnant women.“
Actually, the ACOG press release seems to have the same talking points as most of the existing advice on perinatal depression, and is incredibly formulaic. A quick search of the internet for advice on perinatal depression confirms this. If any OBs ignored this advice before they are not necessarily likely to listen to this new report either.
“In women with a history of severe, recurrent depression, however, or those with suicidal symptoms, refraining from medication is not advised as they may become a danger to themselves and their baby.”
This completely ignores warnings from FDA on antidepressants actually causing suicidal symptoms, psychosis, etc. Where is the consideration that the antidepressants may be exacerbating the severe, recurrent depression? Where are the treatment recommendations for healthy alternatives that rival / surpass antidepressant efficacy without side effects? Psychotherapy is treated as though it does not work for severe depression.
All medical underlying causes are ignored, such as thyroid, hypoglycemia, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, etc. Omega 3 is a great alternative that has been proven effective in studies on and cannot possibly hurt the mother or baby.
This quote differs from ACOG report, which states:
Women with recurrent depression or who have symptoms despite their medication may benefit from psychotherapy to replace or augment medication. Women with severe depression (with suicide attempts, functional incapacitation, or weight loss) should remain on medication. If a patient refuses medication, alternative treatment and monitoring should be in place, preferably before discontinuation.
NYU Psychiatrist confirms Medical Community Has Not Been On Board With Drugging Pregnant Moms
Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist at the New York University Medical Center stated:
““It might come as a surprise to some that it’s necessary to treat patients [with drugs] when they’re pregnant. I think there are clinicians that shy away from it.” “
Once again confirmation that many doctors do not want to treat pregnant patients with psychotropic drugs. Again, his point completely ignores trying other methods before psychotropic drugs, and ignores screening for thyroid, anemia, nutritional problems, etc. He clearly does not put safety first.
Unless you know the exact medical cause of the symptoms there is no such thing as a necessary drug during pregnancy. There is no proof that psychotropic drugs cure anything chemically so they can never be considered essential during pregnancy, unlike antibiotics, insulin, and most other drugs that could be considered necessary for some patients. Even then, there are alternatives that doctors and midwives use for these serious problems in pregnancy, such as probiotics, vitamins (Vitamin C megadoses, garlic, etc.), and diet recommendations.
“Though the prenatal risks of taking antidepressants are not fully known, the report stresses the potential negative impact of allowing depression to go untreated as a mitigating factor in the decision to medicate.”
Again, this completely ignores alternative treatments besides drugs.
“Depressed mothers are at increased risk of substance abuse, of poor compliance with prenatal care, and have poorer nutritional habits than mothers who are not depressed.”
So address their nutritional habits and tell them to stop using substances. Giving out prescriptions that have equal or greater harmful effects than alcohol and illegal drugs is not acceptable. Furthermore, the efficacy of antidepressants is extremely questionable at best so who is to say that women on antidepressants will eat better and avoid all substances besides antidepressants?
“You cannot separate the needs of the mother from the needs of her fetus,” said Dr. Lucy Puryear, a reproductive psychiatrist and author of the book Understanding Your Moods When Your Expecting: Emotions, Mental Health, and HappinessBefore, During, and After Pregnancy. “To ignore the pregnant woman’s mental health in order to ‘protect’ her baby causes distress to the pregnant mother and her family.”
Why is protect in quotation marks? Does a baby’s death or birth defect from antidepressants not cause the family and mother distress?
Your ABC article implies that the treatment may not have worked very well for the mother quoted
“And Sevlie pointed out that her experience with untreated depression during pregnancy as well as the eight months of post-partum depression she endured — for which she did complete a course of treatment — led to feeling alienated from her daughter. “I feel like I lost that first year of her life,” Sevlie said. “I don’t remember when her teeth came in or when she sat up… I remember feeling I wasn’t the mom I was supposed to be… I would have liked to know more of my options,” Sevlie said. “Not just medications but outlets for depression and pregnancy support.” “
More research needed on antidepressants – report not conclusively in favor of drugs
“Experts stressed that some facets of the report highlight the need for more research on the risks of both depression and antidepressant treatment. But unified recommendations from both obstetricians psychiatrists should assist in more effective treatment for pregnant women with depression.”