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Health & Baby

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Prozac Used by Breastfeeding Mothers May Affect Baby's Weight


Second, the nursing mothers may have breastfed less often or engaged in other behaviors that affected the infants' weight gain. Third, the lower weight could be due to the mother's use of the drug while she was pregnant. "I think it's somewhat of a preliminary study. ... It's not definitive," Anderson tells WebMD.

The age of the infant and the mother's medical history should factor into any decisions about prescribing Prozac, according to Anderson.

"If she is just starting this medication for the first time, I would suggest using a different drug and not using Prozac to start with," he says. "If she has been taking it through pregnancy and now she is going to start nursing, I think the benefits of nursing still outweigh the potential risks of Prozac. But the physician needs to watch very carefully the weight gain and the behavior of the infant and make sure there aren't colicky symptoms and the baby is gaining weight adequately. If the baby is 1 year old, and the mother is nursing three or four times a day and feeding the baby a lot of food, I don't think it makes any difference which [medication] they choose. ... All in all, use something else first whenever possible."

"There are better alternatives," says Anderson. He says that information is available on Pamelor (nortriptyline ) and Zoloft (sertraline). "Those medications are not detectable in the babies' serum even when the babies are nursing. Some recent data looks like Paxil [paroxitene] is a pretty good choice, too."

Vital Information:

  • Continuing to take Prozac while breastfeeding is not associated with any unusual behavior in children, but it is linked to reduced growth.
  • The drug may directly inhibit weight gain in these infants, or it could be a result of a behavior by the mothers.
  • There are alternative antidepressant medications that nursing mothers could take that do not seem to affect babies.
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