Psychiatric Pregnancy

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After the thalidomide disaster of the late 1950s, a great amount of scrutiny has been placed on the safety of a variety of substances during pregnancy, from swordfish to psychotropic medications. Psychotropic drugs are commonly viewed as unsafe for use during pregnancy, and women who use them are often judged as irresponsible. The decision to start or continue a pharmacotherapeutic regimen while pregnant is a difficult one, and there are many factors that a mother-to-be has to consider. Psychiatric illness is a serious issue for many women of childbearing age. Research conducted by Vesga-López et al. (2008) studied the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among pregnant and postpartum women within the United States. This study examines…show more content…
Although most psychiatric illnesses are not significantly more common during pregnancy, Vesga-López et al. estimated one-quarter of pregnant women experience a psychiatric illness. As such, appropriate mental health treatment during this sensitive time is incredibly important, and so the risks and benefits of each treatment, including pharmacotherapy, must be carefully considered. One of the most commonly studied and prescribed class of psychotropic drugs are the selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. As such, a great deal of research into the safety of psychotropics during pregnancy center on the use of SSRIs during pregnancy. In order to gain a better picture of the physical risks associated with these medications, Alwan, Reefhuis, Rasmussen, Olney, and Friedman examined the data of 9,622 infants with major birth defects in comparison with 4,092 control infants. Data was collected from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), which examines more than 30 categories of birth defects. Case infants were defined as infants born with at least one major birth defect present. Demographic information (including SSRI drug use and other risk factors) was collected by phone interviews with the infant’s mother. Mothers were considered exposed if they used an
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