Gobsmacked at SSRI / pregnancy thing as reported on BBC today

(62 Posts)
NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 19:29:10


So a NICE Professor has claimed that for women who take SSRIs in early pregnancy, the risk of the baby being born with a heart defect rises from 2 in 100 to 4 in 100.

That is something that needs to be checked out, obviously.

What left me with my mouth hanging open was the scare-mongering approach which has been instigated by Professor Pilling, and his attitude towards women.

So first he compares taking anti-depressants, to smoking or drinking. While I am aware that tobacco and alcohol can be used by people with mental health problems, I really didn't get the feeling that he was making a point related to that. It came across as if taking anti-depressants was a lifestyle choice that women did for fun. The idea that women should be "discouraged" from taking SSTIs in pregnancy SSRIs is bizarre. Surely if there is risk, a warning should be issued to medical professionals to discuss options with women who are on these medications / thinking of starting a family etc.

The second was that he said that he flagged up this thing that right wing US types like about females being in a "pre-pregnant" state for their entire fertile lives.

"It's not just when a woman who's pregnant is sitting in front of you. I think it needs to be thought about with a woman who could get pregnant. And, that's the large majority of women aged between 15 and 45."

So what, he is saying that women and girls should not have access to these drugs, which are highly effective, no matter whether they are single or in a couple, trying for a baby or not, or what form of contraception they are using? That's a really concerning attitude and a dangerous road to go down.

The third was the huge risk he has taken saying this that lots of women on ADs are going to suddenly stop taking their medication. A woman with anxiety on SSRIs and in her first trimester might react very strongly to this. What with having anxiety and all. From this POV I find his comments irresponsible.

Nowhere in the article does it say, if you are worried don't stop taking your tablets but go and talk to your doctor. So that is a fail by the BBC as well.

All in all I was just really shocked by this. The way the Professor has approached this seems to have a total disregard for women's health or happiness. And implies that they take ADs as a lifestyle choice. He seems to feel that if women are aged 15-45, and "only" mildly or moderatly depressed, then they should just suck it up and get on with it, just on the offchance that they get pregnant.

Did you see this? What do you make of it?

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PeggyCarter Mon 24-Jun-13 19:39:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 19:58:11

I'm sorry to hear that, puddle. I have also suffered with anxiety/depression although they were triggered by pregnancy and I finally have just come off the drugs (DD1 is nearly 6).

There is enough stigma around this already esp. with pregnancy and young children and stuff - I didn't go to the doc about it until DD2 was 2, I just struggled on as I was scared what impact me telling the doc I was ill would have on the children. This man obviously just hasn't considered the actual effect that his words could have on pregnant women who are depressed / anxious - whether they are on medication or not.

I think that the way he has equated ADs with booze and fags, and said that women should be "discouraged" from taking them is bizarre. And the whole "pre pregnant" thing is just a revolting attitude, so utterly controlling and putting the tiny chance of something going wrong for a hypothetical baby before the health, happiness and autonomy of all females for much of their lives. Makes me spit.

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scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Jun-13 20:04:23

I saw that this morning. Found it disturbing on several levels. Lets make women even more responsible for their own mental health. Let them make impossible choices through pregnancy so we can blame it all on them rather than actually looking at what is wrong with the society that this is actually so much of a danger for pregnant women. And don't get me started on the pre-pregnancy guff. Are women to be permanently in a state of pre-pregnancy when they reach puberty? It is controlling and sinister.

scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Jun-13 20:05:45

I think it also ties in with the PND thread. Lets not sort out any support for women I this position lets just lay it back on them.


BlessThisMess Mon 24-Jun-13 20:30:18

I have had one baby with a congenital heart defect while not on SSRIs, and two heart-healthy babies while on SSRIs. Those drugs saved my life, and I would hate to have been discouraged from being on them when I needed them. It was definitely not a 'lifestyle choice'.

NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 20:32:09

Thing is if he had said that it looks like there's more of a risk and so HCPs should consider what is the best medication for the siutation as there are alternatives available etc etc then that would be one thing.

As it is he baldly states that SSRIs for all women with mild / moderate depression / anxiety aged 15 to 45 are "not worth the risk" to a hypothetical baby. No mention of the risk to the girls and women of not having this treatment available, no mention of weighing up the risk to the hypothetical baby against the risk to the actual woman who actually has actual mental health problems. No mention of alternatives.

His idea seems to be that ADs are a lifestyle choice that irresponsible women make, for fun. That is really strongly the impression he gives.

This man is a Professor working for NICE FFS not some random on the street. Presumably his area of expertise is mental health / pregnancy. And he comes out with this.

Sorry I am repeating myself it just made me so angry, glad it's not just me. It's wrong isn't it. His attitude, reporting it this way, everything.

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MooncupGoddess Mon 24-Jun-13 20:36:13

Appalling... and hot on the heels of the report suggesting that women shouldn't clean or use shower gel while pregnant. If there is evidence of SSRIs increasing the risk of heart defects then absolutely research it further and explain it to women when prescribing anti-depressants. But this scaremongering is unforgivable.

As a 'pre-pregnant' woman I also get incensed that these articles take it for granted that most women of childbearing age a) are having regular PIV and b) would keep an unplanned baby.

NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 20:38:37

YY mooncup I was just thinking about that and looking for a link.

The advice IIRC was that women who are pregnant, or thinking or becoming pregnant, should not eat, drink or touch anything, ever. Or near enough.

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NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 20:41:20

I suppose I'm also "pre-pregnant" even though have 2 children and would not contemplate having another child. Due to the MH issues I suffer when pg and afterwards. According to him I shouldn't have been given the SSRIs that made just such a huge, amazing difference.

Hmph. Had honestly not realised that I was "pre-pregnant" and that state should inform how HCPs treat me.

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scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Jun-13 20:46:37

His idea seems to be that ADs are a lifestyle choice that irresponsible women make, for fun. That is really strongly the impression he gives.

Yes that was the impression I got. It is very wrong.

I am really pissed off at the moment with the amount of dos and don'ts women are being subjected to during pregnancy. It has gone way beyond concern and information sources for pregnant women to downright speculation and misinformation.

It seems to me that the onus of reproduction is being firmly put on the woman and not on society. These thpe of articles are not asking the right questions and tackling symptoms rather than causes.

Why are we making products that are harmful to reproduction? I am not just thinking of SSRIs here but the other week it was cleaning products and non-stick frying pans FFS. Why are we not supporting pregnant women or women in general when they are depressed and looking at some of the clear links as to why depression is occurring in the first place (yes I am thinking of abuse, isolation, lack of support etc)? Why are fish so toxic that pregnant women shouldn't be eating them? The list goes on.

Raising child is a societal issue. But you wouldn't think it.

Manchesterhistorygirl Mon 24-Jun-13 20:46:43

I've never had to take ad's, but wholeheartedly agree he can fuck the fuck off. I'm technically pre pregnant and there is no way I would have another child, if it were necessary I cold be refused ad's because I'm a woman. That's what it boils down to!

The state can fuck off. I'm fuming about this state sanctioned misogyny.

scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Jun-13 20:48:39

Cross-post with mooncup. Yes I was thinking of the same report. So vague you could probably put any household goods in there <rolls eyes>

MooncupGoddess Mon 24-Jun-13 20:56:51

You should SUFFER, NiceTabard, for the sake of your hypothetical unborn child.

Given that women have a childbearing life of, on average, about 30 years it is an extraordinarily brutal sentence.

NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 20:59:14

scallops yes and another interesting point comes from that.

It seems (although may be selective reporting) that when there are potential problems with babies, it is the mother's behaviour that is exclusively focussed on.

Like them banging on for years about how older mothers = crappy eggs = how selfish poor babies. When actually older fathers = poor sperm quality = possible problems for babies / problems carrying to term but that is rarely mentioned.

With the chemicals thing - AND the prescription drugs/ booze / fags - isn't it entirely possible that these things will have an adverse effect on sperm leading to problems? Of course it is entirely possible - and with smoking there have been studies showing it. Yet all of the focus in these things is on the woman.

Can you imagine if it were suggested that all "pre-inseminating" men - so all males aged, what, 12 to dead, should not be prescribed SSRIs, should not be drinking alcohol, smoking, should be avoiding most thing that normally are used / consumed in day to day life?


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scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Jun-13 21:01:08

Brutal is the right word. Expecting women to be in a state of pre-pregnancy is just treating us like breeders. Not people with a right to a life.

Fuck. The. Fuck. Off.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 24-Jun-13 21:02:03

bloody hell. Pre pregnant? He can fuck off angry

SunshineBossaNova Mon 24-Jun-13 21:26:15

Pre pregnant? Only if he can fucking sort my DH's sperm out!

When we were TTC I specifically changed SSRIs on the advice of my gynae to ensure that any hypothetical babies were not harmed. No kids are forthcoming (aforementioned sperm problem) and I should be able to take whatever I fucking like.

The irony is that our fertility issues triggered HUGE depression for me - but yeah, I was only taking them for fun. <mutter mutter mutter>

CaptChaos Mon 24-Jun-13 21:30:02

Misogynistic twat.

SSRI's quite literally saved my life at one point, luckily (according to Prof Pilling) I had already been talked into getting myself sterilised, so never pre-pregnant again.

What a very dangerous and mother blaming piece of reporting as NiceTabard rightly pointed out, can you imagine the outcry should men be classed as pre-inseminating unless they are pre-pubescent or dead, and therefore should avoid the various things that women do?

MooncupGoddess Mon 24-Jun-13 21:31:23

Actually there is some evidence (am not medic so can't judge it) that SSRIs can cause sperm quality problems in men that can be potentially linked to a higher risk of birth defects.


Bafflingly, I have yet to see an article on the BBC warning pre-inseminating men who are suffering mild to moderate depression not to use SSRIs for this reason.

NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 21:36:38

I assume that Prof Pilling has commented on that research though, mooncup?

I expect there is a piece on the BBC somewhere.

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NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 21:37:02


strike second line grin

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NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 21:42:59

CaptChaos hold your horses there.

According to NHS, female sterilisation carries risk of 1 woman becoming pregnant out of every 200 procedures.
Meanwhile condoms can be 99% effective.
And being celibate, or being a lesbian, and not wanting a child, is to all intents and purposes 100% effective.

I didn't see him giving exemptions for any of those groups, so think you are being a bit presumptious there. I reckon the Prof would put you in a "pre pregnant" category without a second thought...

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NiceTabard Mon 24-Jun-13 21:44:54

OR maybe he has insight that women who are a. not involved with men and/or b. not having PIV sex and/or c. don't have or want children have a ZERO chance of mental health problems!

Could that be it? grin

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MooncupGoddess Mon 24-Jun-13 21:53:28

Good deduction, NT. I await a BBC headline saying 'Heterosexuality is bad for you.'

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