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How Safe Is Sertraline in Pregnancy?

Nicole Madison
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Few drugs are considered 100-percent safe during pregnancy, but some are considered more risky than others. Many women wonder about the use of sertraline, an antidepressant, during pregnancy. Doctors usually only recommend that their patients start or continue taking this medication during pregnancy if a woman's mental health symptoms are significant enough to warrant the risk. This is due to the fact that the drug does represent a potential risk to a developing baby, and researchers have not conducted human pregnancy studies on it. Additionally, there is some evidence that using this drug in the third trimester may lead to a range of health difficulties for a newborn baby.

The first thing to consider when it comes to the safety of using sertraline in pregnancy is the fact that there is no iron-clad answer as to whether it is safe or not. This is due to the lack of controlled studies of this drug in human pregnancies. Researchers have, however, conducted sertraline studies on animals, which have produced some evidence of a reduced chance for animal baby survival when very large doses are used during pregnancy. Still, many medical experts assert that this is not enough evidence to determine whether or not it is safe in human pregnancies. As such, doctors usually reserve this drug for women whose need for it clearly outweighs any potential risk to their developing children.

Though much is still unknown of using sertraline in pregnancy, the period of the highest risk appears to be in the third trimester. Some babies born to women who took this drug during their third trimester were born with breathing problems and oxygen-level deficiencies in their blood. Reports have also mentioned seizure activity, problems with eating after delivery, and tremors in babies born to mothers taking this drug. Additionally, there have even been reports of inconsolable crying in newborn babies born to mothers who used sertraline in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Another vote against the safety of using sertraline in pregnancy comes from reports of babies with a condition called pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). This condition is more likely to develop in newborn babies whose mothers took this dug in the third trimester. It is marked by continued high blood pressure in the lungs and blood flowing away from the lungs rather than an increase in blood flow to them. It can cause serious issues with breathing and heart rate, and in some cases, it can even result in the death of the newborn baby. For some people, this is reason enough to avoid taking sertraline in pregnancy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

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Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Writer

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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