Making Decisions about Zoloft and Pregnancy
Zoloft is a commonly used antidepressant generically called sertraline. It is one of the antidepressants labeled as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is one of the chemicals that helps the nerve cells in the body communicate. Women planning a pregnancy usually have questions about taking Zoloft while carrying the child.
The first concern about Zoloft and pregnancy is its effect on the health of the mother and child. Doctors must weigh the benefits of discontinuing therapy with its resulting mental problems for the mother against the effect that continuing Zoloft might have on the fetus. Studies are currently being done to provide physicians and patients with more information to make the right decisions.
Currently, no study has shown that taking Zoloft makes it harder to get pregnant. Studies do exist that consider the effect Zoloft might have on the developing fetus. Normally, 3-5% of all pregnancies result in birth defects. Some studies have found that taking Zoloft does not result in an increase in these odds.
Other studies show that when mothers have taken Zoloft during the third trimester of their pregnancy, their infants have some difficulties. These include an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension, a serious respiratory problem for infants.
Other problems reported for the infants of mothers who have taken Zoloft during the third trimester of their pregnancy are feeding difficulties and seizures. Some infants also seem to be more irritable after birth. They cry more often and some have tremors.
Long term effects of taking Zoloft during pregnancy are still being studied. One small study has found that there could be a connection between Zoloft and deficiencies in motor skills. Other studies of similar SSRI drugs taken during pregnancy show no difference in intelligence or motor skills in children who have been exposed to these drugs and control groups.
A mother should never stop taking Zoloft during her pregnancy without first consulting her doctor. It only takes about 6 days for the drug to work its way out of the system. Since no problems have been reported when Zoloft was taken during the first trimester of a pregnancy, this gives doctors and patients time to chart a course of action.
An expectant mother should read all of the available materials about Zoloft and pregnancy. Then, after discussing the facts with her doctor, she can make an informed decision that will result in less worry.