The risk is “small, but significant”, say researchers at Swansea University who looked at the impact of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most common type of antidepressant, on a group of 500,000 children born in Wales, Norway and Denmark.
Three per cent of pregnancies ended in stillbirth or a birth defect, also known as major congenital anomaly, when the mother wasn’t taking an SSRI, but this rose to 3.5 per cent among those who were taking the drug during the first trimester or before they became pregnant.
Although the increased risk seems small, lead researcher Prof Sue Jordan said the extra cases were “as serious as they can be”.
Around 5.5 per cent of pregnant women in Wales are taking an SSRI during the first trimester, although just 2.1 per cent of Danish women and 1.6 per cent of Norwegians do so.
The researchers are calling on doctors to review their policy of giving out SSRI prescriptions to pregnant women and those planning on starting a family.