Pregnant women who take antidepressants may set their children up for Type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life, according to new research.
Medical investigators at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found a correlation between the use of Prozac (fluoxetine) during pregnancy and an increased risk of obesity and diabetes in laboratory studies involving animals. If the link also proves true for women, it could explain at least one contributing factor in rising childhood diabetes and obesity rates.
"Obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise and there is the argument that it is related to lifestyle and availability of high calorie foods and reduced physical activity, but our study has found that maternal antidepressant use may also be a contributing factor to the obesity and diabetes epidemic," said investigator Alison Holloway, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University.
Up to 20 percent of American woman are prescribed an antidepressant during pregnancy, the researchers noted.
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"While it is known that these drugs can increase the risk of obesity in adults, it is unknown whether a woman's antidepressant use during pregnancy increases the risk of metabolic disturbances in her children," Holloway said.
"We have demonstrated for the first time in an animal model that maternal use of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], resulted in increased fat accumulation and inflammation in the liver of the adult offspring, raising new concerns about the long-term metabolic complications in children born to women who take SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy," said Nicole De Long, who presented the study at a recent meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and The Endocrine Society.
The researchers stressed that pregnant women should not avoid antidepressants during pregnancy, but they — and their children — should be more closely monitored for potential diabetes and obesity risks.
"The benefit of the study is it may help in the identification of a high-risk group of children who may require specific interventions to prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes later in life," De Long said.
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