Fertility & Perinatal Support @InnerSpring WellBeing in Stow, MA 978-461-2001
Fertility & Perinatal Support

Implications for Children Whose Mothers take SSRI/SNRI during pregnancy

We have seen an increase in digestive and emotional health issues in children over the past 15+ years. I have absolutely seen this uptick clinically with the number of teens brought into the office for mental health and digestive issues.  Often, I’ll ask the mother after a consult if they were taking medications during pregnancy. I have been astounded at the number who have responded that they did take an SSRI. There has to be a connection. Yes, many environmental factors exist, such as paternal stress, social media, loss of nuclear family, etc.   But taking these drugs during pregnancy which are known to cross into the placental blood stream, has to have some effect on specific genotypes and phenotypes. How could it not?

You will find plenty of studies stating there is no harm.   It is valid for the conditions and the time period that these studies investigate; they found no harm, whether it be an increase in autism, speech delay, ADHD, etc.   These studies’ limitations are that they only look at a small subset of conditions, and often, other health issues do not surface until after puberty.   If they could extend their studies and follow a child into their early 20s, there are plenty of suggestions that they can find a deleterious correlation. (and, of course, correlation does not equal causation – but there are plenty of potential mechanisms of cause here).

Studies that say there is no harm are like playing a treasure hunt game where you cannot find the treasure, so you declare, “There is no treasure to be found.” To say one cannot find something does not mean it does not exist.

We have a crisis on our hands where we are creating children with many health problems partially contributed by the pharmaceutical industry’s stranglehold on our sick-care system.   Taking medication before or during pregnancy that crosses into the placental bloodstream runs the risk of having a neuroendocrine-immune reaction.   For example, it is well established that Tylenol taken during pregnancy has a negative effect.   There is also neonatal withdrawal syndrome in drug users, which provides extreme examples.

Some studies show a potential adverse effect:


Medicine always takes a while to catch up. We saw it with Vitamin D when, in the 1990s, anything higher than 400IU would be detrimental even though ‘alternative’ practitioners were using higher amounts showing benefit. Of course, today, doctors prescribe 50000IU dosages. I feel confident that in 10 years, the narrative will be that SSRIs during pregnancy increase the risk of digestive issues in kids. Then, other conditions will follow suit.   It may take 10-15 years for ‘science’ to convince itself and change its narrative, but I see it with the eye test clinically.

So what is a mother-to-be to do? It is not an easy situation, especially if they have been relying on the antidepressant for years. Examining diet, neurotransmitters, and lifestyle (breathing practices/meditation) takes work.   Of course, if there is a family history, it becomes more challenging to treat, but it is doable. I have had some success helping people get off medications, but it is case-by-case dependent.    For a psychiatric functional medicine approach, I suggest looking for a Walsh Institute-trained psychiatrist.

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