By Byron J. Richards, CCN
March 21, 2008
The Senate is about to approve legislation (Mothers Act – S.1375) which mandates the indoctrination of pregnant and nursing mothers into the use of extremely dangerous psychiatric medication. We already know this class of medication poses serious health risks to both mother and baby. Consequences to the baby are now proven to cause nerve-related changes that can adversely affect health for a lifetime.
This Big Pharma legislation was innocuously crafted under the pretense of helping pregnant mothers deal with stress and mood. On the surface it is made to look like a helpful public policy that any Senator would want to support. The reality is that pregnant and nursing mothers have become a Big Pharma target market and this legislation locks in taxpayer funds to dispense psych drugs to pregnant and nursing mothers – guaranteeing that Big Pharma will get billions for poisoning the most vulnerable members in our society.
Now that Senators are being called on the carpet for what this law will actually do; i.e., injure babies for life – they have gone behind close doors to finish marking up the bill and plan to sneak it through the Senate in the beginning of April without any debate or chance for amendment. A marriage of Big Pharma dollars with a bizarre socialist medicine agenda is more compelling to them than real health. The legislation is cosponsored by both Clinton and Obama (members of the Senate HELP committee that will bring the legislation to the floor of the Senate), but make no mistake – it is also widely supported by republican senators and Bush will sign it in a heartbeat. Both sides of the aisle are owned by Big Pharma. The only thing more important to them than the Big Pharma money is their image – so let’s make it clear: they are proposing legislation that knowingly will injure mothers and babies.
The only thing standing in the way of the final passage of this legislation is your opposition. Go to my website and click on the Take Action link. With two mouse clicks you can use my CapWiz software to send a letter of opposition to both of your senators, it only takes 30 seconds.
Scientific Evidence of Psych-Drug Damage Relating to Pregnancy
The dangers of psych drugs during pregnancy and lactation have been reported for a number of years. However, within the past six months a stunning amount of new data has become available which I will now summarize for you. A lot of this information is new since the Senate bill was first crafted. Any Senator who was truly interested in the health and well being of mother and child would put the Mothers Act on hold until the true risks of these drugs are fully known. It is completely irresponsible of Senators to create laws which will directly injure mothers, unborn children, and new babies.
It is a well known scientific fact that psych drugs readily cross the placenta and expose the fetus to pharmacologically active levels of these drugs. It is also known that nursing mothers have pharmacologically active levels of these drugs in their breast milk.
Exposing a fetus or new baby to these drugs is far different than exposing the adult nervous system which has already established brain circuitry. The fetus’s evolving nerves are trying to form core nerve circuitry (like computer hardware) that cannot easily be changed later, establishing connections throughout the body – such as to the heart and lungs, and setting up how these organs will be run by the nerves over the course of a lifetime. Available evidence clearly shows that psych drugs interfere with these natural processes and pose a grave risk to the unborn – a risk that can result in a lifetime of poor health.
A meta-analysis published in May of 2007 showed that women taking antidepressants in the first trimester of pregnancy had a 72% increased risk for a child with cardiac malformation (birth defect). A study published in Dec of 2006 reviewed earlier studies showing that the use of antidepressants during any phase of pregnancy carried serious risks for birth defects, especially cardiovascular. It reviewed a Danish study showing 60% increased risk, an American study showing 100% increased risk, and a Swedish study showing 120% increased risk for cardiovascular defects. The American study showed 4% of women who used antidepressants during pregnancy had a baby with any type of birth defect; 2% of women having babies with cardiovascular birth defects. It is clear that antidepressant medication interferes with how nerves communicate to the heart as the fetus is evolving. Click here to read the story of Manie – a baby born with an antidepressant-induced heart defect.
A Dec of 2007 Dutch study reports on the broad array of side effects in babies whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy. These include respiratory distress, feeding and digestive disturbances, irritability, and convulsions. The authors also point out that animal studies have shown “permanent changes in specific parts of the brain and altered behavior in adulthood after perinatal exposure to SSRIs.” A Dec of 2007 Swedish study confirms much of this information, again pointing out the high rates of respiratory distress, convulsions, hypoglycemia, and overall poor health (low Apgar scores). An Oct of 2006 study explains that 30% of babies born to mothers who used antidepressants have significant inability to adapt (adjusting to being born and then thriving). This means that even when there are not blatant birth defects, general health of the newborn is compromised across the boards – an incredibly dangerous situation.
Indeed, data published in Oct of 2006 showed mothers who took antidepressants are much more likely to have premature deliveries and low birth weight babies – indicative of general malnutrition induced by antidepressant medication. Studies in sheep clearly show that this is because antidepressants reduce the flow of blood to the uterus, in turn reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrition that can get to the baby.
An Oct of 2007 U.S. study reviewed the animal data that shows exposure to antidepressants causes life long abnormalities in behavior and stress tolerance. A Feb of 2005 study demonstrated that 2 month old infants already had a depressed and inappropriate response to pain – a key factor indicating disturbed development of the nervous system. This issue is directly related to properly coping with stress or pain as an adult, the failure of which leads to anxiety, fibromyalgia, and increased risk for sudden death from a cardiovascular event. This is a profound neurologic change because it means that the developing nervous system, as a result of exposure to psych meds, has been “traumatized,” adversely priming nerves to hyper-react to future stress.
Several studies have tried to identify childhood behavioral and attention issues in those exposed to psych drugs during pregnancy. (Jan of 2007, June of 2006) While poor coping trends are evident, a clear pattern has not emerged because these children are still living in high stress environments due to parental instability – which is never good for children whether they have been exposed to medication or not.
The bottom line of all of this information about psych drug use during pregnancy is that it is one huge experiment with many unknown and likely adverse health consequences. Once again we see the failure of the FDA to protect the public, as the FDA does not demand Big Pharma do studies to prove these drugs are safe for pregnant women. To the contrary, most available science tilts in the direction that they are quite unsafe and carry extreme risks for the baby – with ominous implications for future poor health for the child and health care costs to society. Senators in favor of this legislation, which would steer 80% of pregnant women on to these meds, need their heads and morality examined. They should be personally held accountable to the mothers whose babies their law injures.