Could Your Antidepressant Be Risking your Newborn’s Health?

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Antidepressant use in America is currently higher than it has ever been in the past.  Somewhere around 13% of Americans take an antidepressant every day, a number that’s climbed over 400% since 1982.  With so many people relying upon pharmaceutical assistance to maintain their mood, and with many of the antidepressants currently prescribed being fairly new, it’s no surprise that we’re still discovering new associated health risks that go hand in hand with their use.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

health riskAlso known as PPHN, is a serious, sometimes life-threatening complication that is defined when a newborn is unable to breathe on their own outside the womb.  It is the result of high blood pressure, and it claims the lives of up to 20% of newborns afflicted.

Even in cases where infants survive, the repercussions of low blood oxygen can be profound and lifelong, ranging from developmental disorders to lung disease.

Back in 2006, the FDA recognized a potential association between SSRI antidepressants and instances of PPHN in newborns.  They advised patients to avoid the use of these drugs during the last 90 or so days of gestation due to a perceived association with the deadly affliction.

A Change in Stance

Despite their clear 2006 warning, the FDA back peddled a bit in 2011, indicating that perhaps their original warning had been erroneous.  That no clear association between the SSRI’s and PPHN was known, and that pregnant women should remain on their prior depression treatment regimen throughout their pregnancy.

This confusing change of stance prompted researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to do some more digging in a widespread study of their own to clarify.

The Results

In the largest study off its kind, which sampled almost 4 million pregnant women in 46 states, the colleagues gathered some statistics.  Their results were fairly conclusive, given the broad statistical sampling, which was gathered by following women for the last 90 days of their pregnancy and their newborns for an additional 30 days.

Overall, there was an increased instance of PPHN among all antidepressant users, not just those using SSRI’s.  However, those exposed to SSRI’s during the last 90 days of gestation had the highest instances.  The rate of PPHN was 20.8:10,000 among totally unexposed newborns, 29.1:10,000 among those exposed to non-SSRI and 31.5:10,000 among those exposed to SSRI’s.

The bottom line is that there is an increased risk to fetal development when antidepressants are used during late pregnancy.  However, this is a risk that must be assessed and evaluated with the risk of stopping/changing depression treatment.

Evolution of Medicinal Marijuana

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Many Americans never thought they’d see the day where marijuana, a once demonized drug with no recognized medical purposes, would be getting a new lease on life like a new lease on used cars Langley as a medically accepted therapy.  However, in recent years and months, marijuana and its intrinsic chemical compounds are being touted as effective therapy for everything from chronic pain to seizures to cancer to depression.

Legality

The legality of marijuana makes it a risky treatment choice for anyone, no matter where they live in the US.  Even with a doctor’s prescription in one state, a user can drive 50 miles across state lines and be committing a felony just by being in possession of their legally prescribed medication.  Not to mention that federal law is still pretty ambiguous, no matter which state you’re in.  Technically, possession of marijuana is still a federal crime, despite recent decriminalization efforts and promises by the ATF and other federal organizations to let it slide.

The still-evolving legality of marijuana and its chemical attributes have made it a questionable treatment for many, despite so many claiming excellent results. Be sure to take advantage of your cities organic food delivery services once the munchies start kicking in.

Benefits

Recently, with the new quasi-legal status of marijuana in the United States, more and more people are claiming that it’s the cure for what ails you.  It is said to cure depression, suppress seizures and even shrink tumors.  Some of the benefits are backed by serious clinical research.  Others, by word of mouth testimonials.  More high-profile physicians and organizations are jumping on the bandwagon of support, too.  Just a few short years ago, coming out in support of marijuana as a treatment option would have been veritable career suicide.   Now, however, it’s becoming a status symbol.

Risks

medical marijuanaOne of the single biggest selling points of using medicinal marijuana is the fact that it has very few negative side-effects.  Especially when compared to many prescriptions.  This seems to be one of the biggest reasons that consumers are turning away from modern pharmaceuticals and toward a more natural alternative.

Indeed, most of the ‘side effects’ of marijuana seem to be selling points.

This isn’t to say that using medicinal marijuana doesn’t have some intrinsic risks, however.  The legality factor alone is enough to scare many people away.  Even if you’re living and consuming in an area where marijuana use is legal for medicinal and even recreational purposes, getting caught with it in your system can cost you your job.   The Supreme Court has upheld the right of companies to terminate employees who test positive, despite legality and despite the fact that it shows up in drug tests for weeks after the effects have worn off.

 

Public Organ Donation Policies a Failure

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organ donationDespite concerted efforts by state and federal agencies to encourage organ donation, many in place since the 1980’s, organ donation rates have remained stagnant.  Those in need of organ donations still find themselves waiting, and often losing the battle against time, even though personal training can help.  Despite a state-by-state push for more widespread donations, something that eventually spread to include the entire nation, neither the rate of donation nor number of transplants performed has markedly increased in decades.

What Programs

Since the late 80’s, there have been numerous programs designed to increase awareness of the need of more organ donors and even provide incentives for those who donate.  State ID’s and driver’s licenses now generally indicate whether someone is a donor.  Families are encouraged to discuss donation and end of life choices with their next of kin.  Even elementary school children are taught about the need for donors and the benefits of donation.

All to little if any avail.

What’s Worked

The only donations that have substantively improved over the last few decades have to do with finances.  States have given their citizens the options to donate to organ donation funds, which help offset the numerous and extensive costs of receiving an organ transplant.  Increases in donations to these funds have equated to about 8-15 additional transplants per state per year, depending upon whether the organ donor is deceased or living.

While this benefit can’t be discounted, the bottom line is that without organs to transplant, the program is failing needy potential recipients.

So, What to Do?

The problem is that there is no universally accepted consensus regarding how to increase the percentage of donor organs available.  Despite being a highly effective treatment, with success rates for organ donation procedures getting better every day, you can’t force or even compel someone to donate their organs or the organs of their deceased loved-ones.

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The ethics are simply too shady and passions too heated on either side.  For everyone waiting in anguish for a donor organ to save their loved-one’s life, there is someone on the other side who just lost a loved one and who must make the heart-wrenching decision whether or not to donate their viable organs.

Even living organ donation is a very big deal for donor.  Going without a kidney or giving up part of a liver for a perfect stranger is a huge sacrifice.

Professionals who deal with the implications of organ donation or lack thereof every day are calling for reform in policies.  So far, unfortunately, there’s no consensus as to what that entails.

Still not convinced? Watch the video below: