Medical Q&As

Antidepressants - safe to conceive?

Is it safe to plan for a baby while on antidepressants?

As a general rule it is preferable to be off all medication, alcohol and cigarettes at the time of conception in order to ensure that conception is taking place under ideal circumstances. However, this general rule of thumb is overturned if it is medically important for a person to continue with medication for a chronic medical condition. For example a woman should continue with her long-term medication if she is being treated for high blood pressure, asthma or depression. Failure to do so would have an adverse effect on the woman’s health, which in turn would not be good for the foetus. Antidepressants cross the placenta into the foetus but no evidence has been produced from animal studies to indicate that they can have an adverse effect. Antidepressants can also pass into the breast milk but again there is no evidence to indicate that this is potentially harmful to an infant. A number of years ago Canadian researchers investigated the pregnancy outcomes in a group of pregnant women some of whom were taking tricyclic antidepressants and others who were taking fluoxetine. They found that these women’s children did not exhibit any increased risk of death in the womb or major birth defect when compared with a control group that was not taking any medication.