Paxil, Other SSRIs Linked to Nursing Difficulties

We have long been writing about the link between adverse health effects and SSRIs during pregnancy. As a matter-of-fact, we wrote very recently that, according to Reuters Health, expectant mothers taking certain antidepressant or anti anxiety medications could experience increased risks for premature births and other birth complications, citing a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Now, CBC News writes that mothers who have recently given birth and who are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—a popular class of antidepressants—may experience breast-feeding difficulties.

SSRIs such as Prozac and <"">Paxil seem to be connected to delays in full milk secretion and lactation onset, said CBS News, referring to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Apparently, the production and regulation of the hormone serotonin is very closely linked to how the breasts secrete milk and initiating that process at the appropriate time, noted Nelson Horseman of the University of Cincinnati and a co-author of the study, said CBC News.

When SSRIs change “mood, emotion, and sleep,” said CBC News, “they may also impact serotonin regulation in the breast, placing new mothers at greater risk of a delay in the establishment of a full milk supply,” said Horseman in a release, quoted CBC News. The team, looked at how SSRI impacts milk production on 431 new mothers, explained CBC News.

In mothers not taking SSRIs, the average lactation onset time was 69.1 hours versus 85.8 hours in women taking the drugs, which was defined by the research team as a 72-hour delay following birth, said CBC News. “SSRI drugs are very helpful medications for many moms, so understanding and ameliorating difficulties moms experience can help them achieve their goals for breastfeeding their babies,” said Horseman, quoted CBC News. “More human research is needed before we can make specific recommendations regarding SSRI use during breastfeeding,” he added.

Because breast milk is considered the best feeding option given its ability to meet infants’ nutritional needs, the fact that it is easily digested, that it contains important antibodies, and that it helps the mother’s health, the Canadian Pediatric Society, Health Canada, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization (WHO) all recommend “exclusive breastfeeding” during the first six month’s of life.

In October we wrote that women taking SSRIs during pregnancy may be likelier to experience premature birth than other women. That study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and also found that babies born to women taking SSRIs were likelier to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

In November we wrote about a Science Daily article that reported that the likelihood of premature child delivery triples in pregnant women with a history of depression and who take certain psychiatric drugs. In that study, researchers from the University of Washington, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University all found that the medication-depression combination, when present before or during pregnancy, was significantly associated to childbirth earlier than at 35 weeks’ gestation.

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