April 16, 2014

Breastfeeding and antidepressants can mix

[Posted: Mon 14/04/2014 by Deborah Condon http://www.irishhealth.com/]

Mothers who use antidepressants are more successful at breastfeeding if they keep taking their drugs, compared with those who stop taking them over concerns about the health of their babies, a new study has found.

Australian researchers looked at almost 370 Danish women who had been taking antidepressants before getting pregnant.

They found that two in three of the women stopped taking their medication either during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

"A third of the women (33%) continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended six months. In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended six months," noted Dr Luke Grzeskowiak of the University of Adelaide

He insisted that the health benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any perceived risk to a baby from antidepressants.

He said that this is a ‘really important message' because of the health benefits associated with breastfeeding for both babies and their mothers, ‘including a degree of protection against postnatal depression'.

"The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother's breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother," Dr Grzeskowiak said.

He acknowledged that many women who have to take regular medication for various conditions struggle with the decision of what to do when they become pregnant or want to breastfeed.

"If they're taking antidepressants, they should be supported and encouraged by family members, friends and healthcare professionals to continue with their medication, knowing that good breastfeeding outcomes are all important for them and their child," he added.

These findings were presented at the 18th Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Annual Conference in Perth