“These are important results for pregnant women and clinicians to take into account in the decision-making process around depression treatment,” wrote Alexander Jarde, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues.
The researchers systematically reviewed 23 prospective observational studies, including 25,663 women. Pregnant women with untreated depression had a significantly increased risk of preterm birth (before 37 weeks; odds ratio[OR]=1.56) and low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams; OR=1.96) compared with women without depression.
Additional analysis revealed that the odds of preterm birth in studies with authors reporting conflicts of interest (direct or indirect funding by or links to pharmaceutical companies) were significantly higher than in studies not reporting such conflicts—a difference the authors noted was “not explained by either differences in depression severity or study quality and remains to be fully understood.”
The authors concluded, “Our findings have important clinical implications for pregnant women and health care professionals because they suggest the need for more surveillance for preterm birth and small infant size, key perinatal outcomes in women with untreated depression.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Yes or No: Prescribing Antidepressants to Pregnant Patients,” by Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.