Washington: Women exposed to certain antidepressants during pregnancy are less likely to breastfeed their babies as compared to unexposed ones, a new study has revealed.

The study, conducted by researchers from California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line, uses data obtained by counsellors at the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line, a toll-free service offering evidence-based clinical information about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It focused on 466 pregnant women who contacted the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line over a ten-year period with questions about a wide variety of exposures and, after being counselled, agreed to participate in a follow-up study of their pregnancy outcome.

The study specifically examined breastfeeding choices of women exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants at the time of delivery, compared to those who discontinued use of antidepressants earlier in pregnancy, as well as to those women who report not taking antidepressants at all.

The results showed that women exposed to an SSRI anytime in pregnancy were about 60 percent less likely to initiate breastfeeding than women who took no antidepressant.

"While the benefits of breastfeeding an infant are very clear, this study suggests that women who are taking antidepressants in pregnancy are not engaging in this behaviour as often as we would like to see," Christina Chambers, co-author of the study, said.

"Whether this is due to the mother's fear of harming her baby by breastfeeding while taking the medication, or due to the mother's depression itself is unclear," she said.

According to Chambers, regardless of the reason for breastfeeding choice, the study suggests that women who have depressive disorders and-or take antidepressants in pregnancy may require additional encouragement and support when making the choice to breastfeed an infant.

The study has been published online in The Journal of Human Lactation.

(Agencies)