Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pregnant? Take Your Antidepressants and an Extra Dose of Choline

Picture taken during my pregnancy with Jr.
It seems that the moment you become pregnant, the world becomes more obsessed with healthy pregnancy.  When I'm not pregnant, I don't notice many news stories or scholarly research about pregnancy.  But, the moment I know I'm pregnant, it seems like I'm inundated with new information about how to insure my baby is healthy.  For instance, lately all I hear in the media is how pregnant women need to get the flu shot (which I just did), how Princess Kate and others battle severe morning sickness, and how synthetic estrogen that used to be given in pregnancy may cause breast cancer.

I know, I know, you're thinking that I'm just more aware of this topic because it hits home.  You're right, I might be slightly biased.  But, my bias in perception has provided me with knowledge of two interesting new studies that I might not have been aware of had I not been pregnant!  Let me share.

First, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found no significant increase in stillbirths for women taking SSRI antidepressants (Prozac, Celexa).  In a study of 1 million Nordic women, researchers found that when they controlled for a pregnant mother's general health, smoking, and age, the effects of antidepressants on pregnancy appeared "neutral".  It appears from this study that there aren't significant instances of stillbirth in women that take SSRI's, so pregnant women who have been receiving treatment for depression should feel more secure about taking their antidepressants.  But, if Dr. Momsie can share a slight warning, this study does not address other negative complications that might arise from taking medications during pregnancy, such as birth defects, infant health, etc. (although there is some evidence from other studies that babies seem to be often born okay).  Bottom line . . . be cautious and seek the advice of your OB before taking any medication during pregnancy.  But, if you are severely depressed during pregnancy, and the depression itself might negatively impact your health and/or the baby's health, don't feel too anxious about taking your SSRI.  The very slight risk is far better than the risks associated with severe depression!

Interested in giving your baby protection from schizophrenia, dementia, and even breast cancer?  It seems the magical nutrient that can help prevent a plethora of yucky illnesses is choline.  Within the last year, I've been seeing more and more research about this nutrient, which is similar to vitamin B.  The newest research, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that taking a supplement of choline during pregnancy and nursing may actually prevent schizophrenia.  Although the researchers weren't able to assess whether the babies actually developed symptoms of schizophrenia (which usually don't manifest until adolescence or early adulthood) they were able to assess early indicators of schizophrenia. Apparently, a normal brain responds fully to an initial clicking sound but inhibits response to a second click that follows immediately. Schizophrenia patients are usually less likely to inhibit secondary responses.  So, the researchers looked at the infants ability to inhibit their responses to clicks as a measure of schizophrenia.  (Ok, I'll admit, this might not be the most fool-proof method, but maybe one of the only early indicators of schizophrenia risk).  Eighty-six percent of infants whose mothers took the choline supplement were able to inhibit responses, compared with just 43% of unexposed infants.  (This does not mean that 43% of infants were doomed to develop schizophrenia, just that they may be more at-risk.)

So, if you're pregnant, start filling your diet with choline-rich foods!  Choline is mostly found in eggs, dairy foods, fish, and meat.   Other foods that contain choline (and are more vegetarian-friendly) include peanut butter, wheat germ, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes, avocados, kidney beans, navy beans, white and brown rice, and oat bran. 

I wonder if Peanut Butter Captain Crunch is rich in choline.  If so, my little peanut is going to be a-okay!




2 comments:

  1. While the doctors are not sure why I had my miscarriage last year. Prior to getting pregnant I was on 3 or 4 different anti depressant and anxiety pills. I was not in the right state of mind either.

    I don't think that helped to have a health pregnancy with all that in my system.

    So I do believe you should be watching yourself a lot more when you are pregnant. But do not go to extreme measures because you might end up stressing yourself more!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry about the loss of your baby, Manda. You make a good point, a pregnant woman can never be too careful. I guess you have to weigh the consequences. If a woman is suffering from a Major Depressive episode that has severely impaired her ability to eat, sleep, or she is having suicidal thoughts, medications may be worth considering, as they may actually save mommy or baby's life.
      Thanks for your comment!

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