An expert has suggested that people in the medical profession shouldn’t be giving some anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs to women of child-bearing age.
Professor Louise Howard, who is head of section of women’s mental health at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says some such drugs can cause problems during pregnancy and half of pregnancies now are unplanned.
She argues that they should therefore not be given to women who could feasibly get pregnant because of their potential to cause damaging side effects for either the women or their unborn children.
“If drugs are contraindicated during pregnancy then it is best that they are avoided in women of reproductive age in general - because 50% of pregnancies are unplanned,” she said.
“That’s just life, we know women will get pregnant when they haven’t intended to, so it’s important to avoid particular drugs.”
Professor Howard cited sodium valproate, which can be used as a mood stabiliser for bipolar patients, as an example because it can lead to foetal malformations or children having a lower IQ.
She added that it is important to assess what the risks and benefits of either taking or not taking the drug to both the foetus and the mother before getting pregnant but reiterated her belief that medication should be avoided if possible.
“Obviously, if you don’t have to use medication we’d rather not - it’s sensible not to expose a foetus to medication if you don’t need to,” she said.