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For most moms-to-be, pregnancy is a very emotional time. Not only are they dealing with an increase in the number of hormones coursing through their body, but are also preparing to bring new life into the world. While women often consider pregnancy to be an exciting time, some women can find themselves sinking into a depression. Unfortunately, some of the medications used to treat depression—including Zoloft—can have severe side effects, including the development of life threatening birth defects.
What is Zoloft?
Understanding the basics behind Zoloft is crucial for those who want to prevent the development of birth defects in their unborn children. According to Drugs.com, Zoloft is a prescription medication used in the treatment and management of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Zoloft is often classified as an anti-depressant, and falls into a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—or SSRIs. In addition to the conditions described above, some physicians and other healthcare providers may prescribe Zoloft from the management of insomnia, chronic acne, and other various conditions.
How to Use Zoloft
As with most other medications, using Zoloft in a safe and responsible manner is very important to prevent potential complications. Individuals who receive the oral tablet form of Zoloft can feel comfortable taking the medication with or without food, as long as it is consumed at the same time each day. In contrast, those who use the liquid version of the product must carefully dilute it with water, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda before its consumption. Failing to take Zoloft in the described manner cannot only decrease its effectiveness, but may lead to serious complications or health risks for the patient.
Birth Defects Associated with Zoloft
While Zoloft is safe to use for most people, women who are pregnant should never ingest the medication. In fact, pregnant women who do take Zoloft may be at greater risk for the delivery of an infant born with moderate to severe forms of birth defect. Some of the most common birth defects associated with maternal Zoloft intake include pulmonary stenosis, tetralogy of fallot, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, ventricular septal defects, cleft palate, and skull defects. In addition, more and more research is suggesting that infants who are exposed to Zoloft in utero may be at risk for the development of Downs’ syndrome.
Obviously, Zoloft is a dangerous drug that should not be used under any circumstances by women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. Those who suffer from depression or any of the other mental health conditions described above should talk with their healthcare provider about weaning from the prescription as soon as possible. In most cases, these women can be easily transitioned to another medication that does not feature such serious health risks. Once the baby has been born, mothers who are not breastfeeding may be able to return to the use of this product.