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"The lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder in women is 10 to 25%, with an average age of onset in the mid-20s.1 Over the nine years that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRis) have been available, for many prescribers, they have become first-line agents in the treatment of depression. In addition, sorne of them are also being used in the treatment of obsessive- compulsive disorder and panic disorder. In light of these facts, itis not unlikely that women of childbearing age would be treated with one of the SSRis. In considering the risks of exposing a fetus to an SSRI, both structural malformation (i.e., teratogenesis) and long-term behavioral effects (i.e., behavioral teratogenesis) must be considered; in addition, possible si de effects and withdrawal syndromes in the newborn must be assessed. It is impossible to be certain that any drug is absolutely safe for use in pregnancy; hence, only an estimate of relative risk can be attempted."


This article was originally published in California Pharmacist, volume 44, in 1996.


California Pharmacists Association



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