Mass General Hospital

Harvard Medical School



Maternal Stress During Pregnancy Linked to Infant Sleep Problems

The link between maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy and adverse neonatal outcome has been well-documented in the medical literature and reviewed on our website. A recent study published in the journal Early Human Development suggests that a mother’s stress during pregnancy may also negatively affect her baby’s sleep patterns.

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Oral Contraceptives and the Risk of Blood Clots in Postpartum Women

If a woman does not breastfeed following delivery, prolactin levels decrease and fertility returns to normal, and pregnancy is possible. Even if a woman decides to breastfeed, she should still use some form of contraception, as prolactin levels vary depending on individual breastfeeding styles. Women may be fertile and become pregnant even before the resumption of their menstrual cycles.

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Using Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Treat Depression During Pregnancy

We commonly see women in our consultation service who have histories of depression and are planning pregnancy. They frequently have questions about alternative treatments for depression while pregnant. Given that many women are taking omega-3 fatty acids prior to pregnancy, the question arises whether they should discontinue them during pregnancy. An additional question is whether omega-3 fatty acids can be used instead of antidepressants for the treatment of depression during pregnancy.

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Interactions Between Antidepressants and Tamoxifen

Women receiving tamoxifen for the treatment or prevention of breast cancer should be aware of possible drug-drug interactions with specific antidepressant medications (e.g., SSRI). These antidepressants are used widely to treat depression and anxiety disorders. In addition, multiple studies have shown that these antidepressants are an effective non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes; over 25% of women who are experiencing hot flashes related to tamoxifen therapy are now prescribed antidepressants to manage their symptoms.

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FDA Proposes Major Revision of Prescription Drug Labeling

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed major revisions to prescription drug labeling in order to provide more accurate and helpful information on the effects of medications used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As it stands, the current system used by the FDA classifies the reproductive safety of medications using five risk categories (A, B, C, D and X) based on data derived from human and animal studies. While widely used to make decisions regarding the use of medications during pregnancy, many have criticized this system of classification, indicating that this type of drug labeling is often not helpful and, even worse, may be misleading.

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Melatonin in Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Many women experience some degree of sleep disturbance during pregnancy. For a significant number of women, the sleep disruption may be so severe as to require some type of intervention. In a previous post, we discussed the use of different types of medications to treat insomnia during pregnancy. While these drugs are highly effective, many women with sleep problems inquire about the use of “natural” agents, such as melatonin, during pregnancy.

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