Zoloft and Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Take Sertraline During Pregnancy?
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Choosing whether to stop or continue using Zoloft medicine during pregnancy is one of the most crucial decisions a woman must undertake. Depression that is left untreated can have numerous harmful effects on the health of the mother as well as the baby. However, consuming antidepressants during pregnancy could elevate the risk of complications for the unborn baby. It is important to weigh the pros and cons and evaluate the risks of using such drugs before arriving upon a final decision.
Table of Contents
- Taking Zoloft During Pregnancy
- What are the Side Effects of Taking Zoloft During Pregnancy?
- What are the Birth Defects Associated with Zoloft?
- Taking Sertraline While Breastfeeding
- I’m Pregnant, and I’m Taking Zoloft. What Should I Do?
Is Zoloft Safe During Pregnancy?
Though various doctors claim that several antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, are mostly safe for usage, there is an increased risk of developing birth defects and other complications when taken during pregnancy.
Being graded as a class “C” category drug by the U.S Food and Drug Administration, Zoloft has proven to cause significant harm when tested on animals. A study conducted on more 2000 pregnant women taking Zoloft, showed a link between the antidepressant and an elevated risk of developing birth defects. Though the research itself does not claim that the drug will trigger birth defects, it does, however, reveal an elevated risk of around 3 to 5 percent.
Another issue with taking doses of Zoloft during pregnancy is that the mother is at a high risk of developing various health complications if she stops taking the drugs immediately. This could elevate the chances of a miscarriage, early labor, and preeclampsia. On the other hand, untreated depression could also lead to potentially serious health issues that could be harmful to the baby as well as the mother, depending upon the severity of the condition.
Can Women Take Antidepressants While Pregnant?
It is recommended to check the severity of the condition, evaluate the risks, compare the pros and cons, and check possible sertraline alternatives before taking this drug during pregnancy. Such antidepressants should only be used if the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the unborn baby. The best approach would be to consult a doctor and let them decide if the patient should start taking sertraline or not.
Side Effects of Using Zoloft During Pregnancy
Zoloft works by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin in the body and increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters responsible for improving the patient’s mood. Here is a list of common Zoloft adverse effects experienced by pregnant women on sertraline:
- Decreased Libido
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Weight gain or loss
- Irritation or anxiety
- Blurred vision
- Manic episodes
- Memory problems
- Mood Swings
- Sleeping problems
Zoloft and Pregnancy Risks
The packaging of Zoloft contains a warning label that states the use of this drug during pregnancy increases the chances of birth defects in pregnant women. Fetuses that have been exposed to the drug late in the third trimester have experienced severe complications requiring hospitalization. Here is a list of the possible side effects experienced by infants whose mothers have taken Zoloft for prolonged periods during pregnancy:
- Respiratory issues
- Breathing difficulties
- Feeding difficulties
- Temperature fluctuations
Birth Defects Associated with Zoloft
A Sertraline Birth Defect report produced in 1998 indicated an increase in the incidences of Zoloft birth defects being caused by the prolonged consumption of the drug in pregnant women. In 2004, a research conducted by Pfizer showed a significant link between Zoloft and heart defects in infants.
Taking Zoloft while pregnant can elevate the possibility of the fetus developing the following birth defects:
- Septal Heart Defect
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Respiratory problems
- Spina Bifida
- Cleft lip or palate
Zoloft Lawsuits for Birth Defects
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer since the year 2012, accusing the company for calling their SSRI drugs safe antidepressants while pregnant instead of warning them regarding the possible risks of congenital defects. The families that have been affected are asking for compensation for the medical bills of their children. Multiple surgeries are required for significant heart defects that can be quite expensive. Omphaloceles, on the other hand, might need extensive care for more than one year, along with treatment for ongoing problems.
The costs of these procedures can quickly add up, and so the affected families are stating that the company should have warned them beforehand. Pfizer has been asked by the FDA to alter the label of their Zoloft pregnancy category and add a warning related to the possible risks of heart defects in infants born to mothers taking the drug.
Is it Safe to Take Sertraline While Breastfeeding?
While children will be exposed to the drug via breast milk, the amount will be a lot less compared to the exposure that occurs within the uterus. Some doctors claim that it is safe to take Zoloft while breastfeeding, as little to no traces are found in the breast milk; however, studies claim otherwise. A study based on Zoloft and breastfeeding consisting of 337 cases shows that a high amount of this drug is found within the breast milk.
Since it elevates the risk of congenital defects when taken during pregnancy, consumption during lactation should be given equal importance. It is essential to thoroughly discuss the options with an experienced doctor and evaluate all the risks before deciding to take the drug during breastfeeding.
I’m Pregnant, and I’m Taking Zoloft, What Would it be Advisable for Me to Do?
If you are pregnant and are taking Zoloft but are worried about the pregnancy risks, you must immediately consult your doctor before quitting sertraline medication. Zoloft breastfeeding or pregnancy risks cannot be undermined, therefore seeking professional help is a must if you want your baby to remain unharmed during the entire process.
Depression can be quite tough to manage, and if left untreated, it could lead to fatal circumstances. In order to get appropriate care and treatment, it is recommended to find a professional rehab center that can help you to get sertraline out of the system. A qualified rehab center can provide you with the emotional support you need to alleviate your suffering, along with support group therapy to keep you engaged. They offer a wealth of facilities, therapies, and amenities to help the patient ensure long-term recovery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and would like to receive more information regarding the rehabilitation process, call our toll-free helpline number (888)-459-5511 for more details.
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Calls to our general hotline may be answered by Delphi Behavioral Health Group or other treatment providers.