Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Antidepressants and Breastfeeding Can Mix

Women on antidepressant medication are more successful at breastfeeding their babies if they keep taking the medication, according to research presented at the 18th annual conference of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Using data from the Danish National Birth Cohort in Denmark, researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute studied the outcomes of 368 women who were on anti­depressants before becoming pregnant.

“A third of the women continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended 6 months,” said Dr Luke Grzeskowiak.

“In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended 6 months.”

Grzeskowiak says the health benefits of continued breastfeeding greatly outweigh any perceived risk to the baby from antidepressant medication. “The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother’s breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother.”