Escitalopram is a prescription drug that’s sold under the brand names Cipralex and Lexapro. It’s in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and it’s used as antidepressant medication.
It’s specifically prescribed to people with major depressive and generalized anxiety disorder. Antidepressants can be vital in achieving balanced brain chemistry for people who are struggling with mental health problems.
SSRIs are usually taken as therapeutic drugs to help correct chemical imbalances.
Ideally, patients can stop taking the drugs after a few weeks without returning to old symptoms.
However, SSRI treatment can often be an ongoing process. Mental health disorders can be complicated, and treating them may take time and some trial and error.
But what happens when you’re taking a medication like escitalopram when you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant?
Drugs and Pregnancy
Pregnancy demands more scrutiny when it comes to what is put into the body. Anyone who’s ever done any pregnancy research may have run across long lists of things you should stay away from while pregnant, including things like sushi, caffeine, raw sprouts, and many other things.
While these things may not pose a threat to mothers, they may threaten growing babies. Medications are highly scrutinized before they’re determined to be safe for humans. But just because a drug is safe for adults doesn’t mean it’s safe for pregnant women or babies who are breastfeeding.
Drugs can be released before it’s determined safe for a developing fetus. In such cases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may label the drug with a “C” or “risk not ruled out” in the pregnancy category. A “C” rating means that studies on animals have shown an adverse effect on developing fetuses, but there are not enough human studies, and the benefits may outweigh the risks in some circumstances.
Is Escitalopram Safe for Pregnancy?
In a 2013 review, researchers looked at eight cases of women treated with escitalopram while pregnant. They looked for instances of major malformations and complications.
They couldn’t determine a rate of malformations that was beyond the normal range for women that don’t take escitalopram.
The study also noted that escitalopram and other SSRIs could be linked to an increased risk of perinatal complications. On the other hand, untreated depression can also pose a threat to both mothers and babies during pregnancy.
Plus, women are most likely to develop depression during their childbearing years. Studies have found that women and babies often do better when being treated for depression than if depression is ignored.
Still, there are risks. As with any medication, it’s important to consult with a doctor to learn about the potential risks to your pregnancy. It’s vital to consider your individual needs with a health care professional when you’re weighing the risks and benefits of taking escitalopram.