The decision to have a child is an incredibly personal one, and shouldn't be dictated by anybody else. As a person who keeps up with scientific developments, however, I've come to a decision based on the state of present studies: I will not have a child while I require antidepressants to function daily, because evidence suggests that the risks of taking antidepressants when pregnant may not be unproblematic when it comes to fetal development and childhood health later in life. While I'm not hugely invested in the idea of having children anyway, and you may read the evidence and decide it's worth the risk, it's always worth knowing the full extent of the data.
Assessing the true impact of antidepressants on pregnancy and birth outcomes is seriously difficult, as there are so many other factors to consider; and, as we'll discover, some potential risks are still undecided, because studies contradict each other. There are also, in some cases, open questions as to whether the problematic factor is antidepressants or the presence of maternal depression itself. A study of Danish women released in An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2015 for instance, found that undiagnosed depression in mothers while pregnant seemed to be linked to problem behavior in children, not antidepressant use itself. We're also still in the dark about precisely what happens in newborns and fetuses who've been exposed to SSRI doses; a 2016 study found "subtle abnormalities" in the brains of exposed newborns, but we're not entirely sure what that might mean, if anything.
So what's the current state of play on antidepressants, pregnancy and children? Let's take a look.