Melbourne: Women on antidepressants are more successful at breastfeeding their babies if they keep taking the medication, a new study has found.
University of Adelaide researchers studied the outcomes of 368 women who were on antidepressants prior to becoming pregnant.
They found that women on antidepressant medication are more successful at breastfeeding their babies if they keep taking the medication, compared with women who quit antidepressants because of concerns about their babies' health.
"We found that two thirds of the women (67 per cent) stopped taking their antidepressant medication either after becoming pregnant or during breastfeeding," said Dr Luke Grzeskowiak from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute.
"A third of the women (33 per cent) continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended six months.
"In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended six months," Grzeskowiak said.
Grzeskowiak said the health benefits of continued breastfeeding greatly outweigh any perceived risk to the baby from antidepressant medication.
"This is a really important message because we know that breastfeeding has immense benefits for the child and the mum herself, including a degree of protection against post-natal depression," he said.
"The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother's breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother," he added.