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    Using Antipsychotic Medication During Pregnancy Affects Babies

    Baby Hands in Black and WhiteThe use of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy can affect the health of the baby, says a new seven-year observational study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    Although many women take antipsychotic medication during pregnancy to treat various psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder, the safety of such drugs on a developing baby is largely unknown. For the present study, researchers from Monash University & Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria in Australia sought to determine the effects, if any, of antipsychotic medication on babies.

    The researchers established the National Register of Antipsychotic Medications in Pregnancy in 2005 and followed pregnant women taking an antipsychotic medication during pregnancy, interviewing the women every six weeks during pregnancy. The researchers then closely followed the babies for one year after birth.

    According the study, taking antipsychotic medication during pregnancy increased the need for special care after birth with 43 percent of babies placed in a Special Care Nursery (SCN) or a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). In addition to requiring special care after birth, 18 percent of the babies were born prematurely, 37 percent showed signs of respiratory distress, and 15 percent developed withdrawal symptoms.

    In other words, the use of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy by mothers can negatively affect the health of babies.

    The study highlights the need for clearer guidelines on the use of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy. Comments Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Director of MAPrc:

    “There’s been little research on antipsychotic medication during pregnancy and if it affects babies. The lack of data has made it very difficult for clinicians to say anything conclusively on how safe it is for babies.

    “This new research confirms that most babies are born healthy, but many experience neonatal problems such as respiratory distress.”

    Adds Professor Kulkarni:

    “The potentially harmful effects of taking an antipsychotic drug in pregnancy have to be balanced against the harm of untreated psychotic illness. The good news is we now know there are no clear associations with specific congenital abnormalities and these drugs.

    “However clinicians should be particularly mindful of neonatal problems such as respiratory distress, so it’s critical that Neonatal Intensive Care Units, or Special Care Nurseries are available for these babies.”

    Women taking antipsychotic medication who become pregnant should be aware of the potential effects of the medication on babies. Additionally, women and doctors must balance the benefits and risks of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy with the benefits and risks of not treating various psychiatric disorders.

    References

    Antipsychotic Medication Taken During Pregnancy Does Affect Babies, Study Shows: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/277654.php
    A Prospective Cohort Study of Antipsychotic Medications in Pregnancy: The First 147 Pregnancies and 100 One Year Old Babies: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0094788

    Image Credits

    Baby Hands in Black and White: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1434430

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