Mothers who take their antidepressant medication are more successful at breastfeeding their offspring than women who quit taking antidepressants during lactation, says a study by the University of Adelaide, Australia.
Many breastfeeding mothers quit taking their medication because they are concerned that antidepressants could have a negative effect on their baby’s health. The study findings were announced on April 10, 2014.
“We found that two thirds of the women (67%) stopped taking their antidepressant medication either after becoming pregnant or during breastfeeding,” says Dr Luke Grzeskowiak from the Robinson Research Institute.
“A third of the women (33%) continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended six months. In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended six months.”
According to Dr Grzeskowiak, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any risk posed by antidepressant medication. “This is a really important message because we know that breastfeeding has immense benefits for the child and the mum herself, including a degree of protection against post-natal depression.”
“The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother’s breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother.”
Researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute used data from Denmark’s Danish National Birth Cohort. They studied 368 women who took antidepressants before they became pregnant.
Many women on medications wonder if they should continue treatment while they are breastfeeding. Dr. Grzeskowiak said that loved ones, friends and healthcare professionals should support women taking antidepressants and encourage them to continue to take their medication while they are breastfeeding.