If you've become reliant on anti-anxiety medication to keep your symptoms at bay and allow you to live a functional and satisfying life, a positive pregnancy test can hit you like a ton of bricks. From health concerns and physical changes to financial worries, there are few women who become less anxious during pregnancy; on the other hand, you may be concerned that the medication you're taking will impact your child's development or even harm his or her health. Is it safe for you to continue using anti-anxiety medication while pregnant or should you quit cold turkey? Read on to learn more about the use of anti-anxiety medication during pregnancy and how you can decide on the healthiest path for both you and your unborn child.
Is anti-anxiety medication harmful to a developing fetus?
Because it's highly unethical to perform laboratory tests on either pregnant women or growing babies, there's not much solid data on the effect of certain medications (including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications) on pregnant women. However, a combination of anecdotal data from thousands of pregnant women and laboratory testing on other gestating mammals (like rats) has given researchers and doctors some tools to determine the impact of anti-anxiety drugs on a pregnant patient.
The unfortunate news is that researchers have found some connection between the use of certain drugs that alter the brain chemistry (like Prozac) and an increased risk of certain birth defects. This risk may also be present in certain anti-anxiety drugs that affect the brain in a similar manner and are able to cross the blood barrier into the placenta. However, even with this increased risk due to anti-anxiety medication use, your overall risk of birth defects (absent other risk factors) should be quite low. For example, if a certain birth defect is present in one of every 1,000 live births, doubling or even tripling this risk by using anti-anxiety meds will still give your child a less than 1 percent chance of winding up with this defect.
How can you decide whether or not taking anti-anxiety medication during pregnancy is a good idea?
As with just about anything else you ingest or do during pregnancy, the answer involves a balancing act. If your anxiety symptoms are relatively mild and you're already in a high-risk group that will require more careful monitoring of your pregnancy, you may want to try to wean yourself off this medication while you're pregnant. On the other hand, if you require medication to function or hold down a job and are otherwise in good health, the potential harm from stopping your medication regimen is likely much greater than the risk to your fetus.
For more information, contact local professionals like Vita Center For Women LLC.