By Robert Preidt
Northwestern University researchers divided 214 new moms into three groups: those with a mood disorder who were not using an antidepressant; those who were taking a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) antidepressant; and those without a mood disorder who were not on an antidepressant.
At two to four weeks after birth, babies in all three groups had similar rates of irritability, difficulty feeding, sleep disturbances and respiratory problems, the study found. The issues affected 3 out of 10 babies in each group.
Instead, preterm birth was the major risk factor for what is known as Neonatal Discontinuation Syndrome (NDS). Babies with NDS get agitated, restless, cry excessively and may be rigid or have tremors.
"Most pregnant women are naturally going to worry more about their baby's health than their own, and might forego taking an antidepressant to avoid these neonatal signs," study first author Amy Yang said in a university news release.
"But with the information from this study, they can be reassured that the baby's behavior at two to four weeks after birth is not likely due to exposure to medication or depression," she added. Yang is a biostatistician in Northwestern's Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.