Being exposed while in the womb to nicotine, a certain class of antidepressant drugs, or even the mother's anxiety or depression is associated with disputed behavior during infancy and childhood, according to two studies published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Drugs that should be avoided during pregnancy if at all possible include:
• Illegal substances
• Isotretinoin (Accutane) and etretinate (Tegison), which are used to treat chronic acne and psoriasis.
• Anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamezapine (Tegretol),which are used to prevent epileptic seizures
Researchers from the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence used reports provided by over 800 mothers to look at the relationship between exposure while in the womb to five substances -- cocaine, opiates, marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine and behavior problems early in life. Exposure only to nicotine was associated with sleep problems that started in infancy and continued throughout the first 12 years of life. This association persisted even after taking into account socioeconomic status, marital status, physical abuse, prenatal medical care, and exposure to cigarette smoke after birth.
In another study out of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, researchers looked at the effects of exposure, while still in the womb, to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, antidepressants as well as the mothers own anxiety or depression. SSRI drugs include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Children exposed in the womb to SSRIs or their mothers depressed mood were more likely to suffer anxiety, depression, and withdrawal early in life. But their response to their mothers mood was influenced by genetic factors. Children of anxious mothers with one kind of genetic profile were more likely to be anxious, depressed, or withdrawn. But among children with another genetic profile, the presence of anxiety during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of aggressive behaviors. By the age of three, the children were more likely to be aggressive if their mothers were currently experiencing depression or anxiety.
Todays research highlights the complex relationship between exposures while in the womb and early in life to both drugs that affect mood and to disruptions in the mothers mood. Never make changes to prescribed medication without consulting your health care professional, even if you are pregnant