Antidepressants May Increase Birth Defects

Antidepressants May Increase Birth Defects

When I was seeing large numbers of pregnant women, I was told to do many things, because they were safe and beneficial.

Reality check – they were not!!

For example, I was told I could give Acetaminophen and now we know it can cause deformities of male genitalia. Years ago it was encouraged to give diethylstilbesterol to lower miscarriage risk and it did not do that but it sometimes caused a potentially fatal vaginal cancer in girl offspring and devastating deformities.

As well, I was told it was perfectly safe to give the type of antidepressants known as SSRIs. This category of drug includes such medications as Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil, and others. A growing list of ills is now recognized as coming from the use of this drug class in pregnancy, including heart defects of the baby!! Of course this prescribing of drugs to pregnant women, except in life-saving situations, must stop! There are safer and more natural ways to help depressed women who are pregnant.

Now I’m very worried about the rampant prescribing of the ubiquitous drug Metformin for pregnant women with prediabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Environmental research has shown that Metformin is an endocrine disruptor!! When it gets into lakes and rivers, and it sadly often does from released water from treatment plants (which can’t remove pharmaceuticals from the water) it actually can alter the genitalia of the fish!

Sometimes I feel I’m the only OB/GYN who sees and cares about medications given to pregnant women. Why do so many respected doctors think that giving potentially harmful drugs is the only way to treat pregnant women with problems?

We must sound the alarm that as pregnancy is the most critical time in the life of the developing person … we must respect’s its needs for a pristine environment so as to enable the new life to reach his/her true potential.


Heart Health and Pregnancy

Heart Health and Pregnancy

Women who have the fewest number of reproductive years during their lives have a higher than normal risk of heart failure, according to a new research article published by the American College of Cardiology.  As well, women who never gave birth are also at an increased risk for heart failure.

It was also discovered that women who never gave birth had a higher incidence of a heart condition called mild diastolic dysfunction.

In those with this condition, the heart isn’t very good at the relaxation phase. It is actually stiffer than a normal heart would be and so cannot properly relax to allow appropriate filling with blood. With diastolic dysfunction, the heart is simply not performing in an optimal state. This is actually a sign of energy deficiency – the first step to developing overt and potentially deadly and disabling heart failure!

Why does this happen? The reason is obvious to me, though less clear to most!

It revolves around estrogen!!

Estrogen is a key player in the health of the heart!! Not having enough of it around, as with what happens when menopause begins, is inherently harmful to the female heart. All of the functions of the heart rely on the support of estrogen.

Pregnancy is a time of estrogen abundance and a pregnancy, it turns out, is very beneficial to heart health. Like it or not, women evolved to have babies and not having babies turns out to be detrimental to women’s hearts!

So ladies, try to keep your hormones as long as you can by staying as healthy as possible. Eating lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit is great for you!! The phytonutrients and antioxidants help to keep those ovaries humming!! And ladies, if you don’t have any babies, whatever the reason, be sure to do EVERYTHING you can to live a heart-healthy life!

Read more here:

Does Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Cause Autism?

Does Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Cause Autism?

The data on the effects of taking antidepressants during a pregnancy  on the developing brains of babies is not definitively known, as no one can do a controlled trial with such drugs. All data is based upon women’s memories and data obtained from medical records – all well recognized to be often faulty and downright erroneous!

Add to that the fact that antidepressants come in different doses and chemical contents and can be taken for variable lengths of time and at different stages of a pregnancy. All of that goes to making the crazy and widespread recent announcement that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy does not have a link with autism or ADHD or any other brain issues – absolutely unfounded.

Let’s take the ubiquitous SSRI’s – drugs like Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft, and the “cousins” Effexor and Cymbalta. These drugs are designed to alter the levels of neurotransmitters! Serotonin is the predominant one impacted. Serotonin is really both a neurotransmitter and a hormone and it has enormous effects all over the body, including the gastrointestinal system, where it is made in huge quantities, surpassing the levels of the brain. And this critically important substance delivers information around the body and is very critical to the development of neural networks in both the gut and brain. To put it mildly, it should be assumed that the potential for harm from antidepressants is great and other measures to deal with depression and anxiety should be taken. There is no way to guarantee safety with these drugs.

It is now understood that moods are heavily determined by the level of inflammation in the body and brain, the overall nutrient status, and hormonal balances and imbalances. Changing the diet to include huge amounts of vegetables and healthy fats, including some saturated fats, eliminating processed food, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, sleeping better and getting better sleep habits, reducing electromagnetic exposures, exercising, getting out in nature and under the sun, seeing the sunset, working on stress and on relationships, and reducing one’s toxic load, all have amazing benefits for mood and will improve the health of the mom and the baby.

Giving pregnant women drugs which impact the very development of the gut and brain is like playing with fire. A brain is a precious thing and there is only one opportunity to create the perfect brain. Mood disorders are much more common in women and it so easy to prescribe drugs and to take them … and it is a challenge to change ones lifestyle habits. But there is no more motivated group than pregnant women to do what is needed to have a healthy baby! So please get the word out that taking antidepressants is NOT OKAY in pregnancy!! Much better options for mental wellbeing exist, which will help, and definitely not harm, the growing and developing new life!


How to Protect Yourself from BPA Exposure While Pregnant

The world in which we all live is quite different from the one inhabited by our grandmothers. Our world is filled with well over 80,000 different chemicals, most of which have no safety data whatsoever. Others are recognized as dangerous by leading scientists, yet no alterations are recommended by our government for their continued and widespread use.

One chemical found widely in our world is Bisphenol A (BPA). It is produced in huge quantities and is used in the production of plastics intended to have a direct contact with food, including plastic packaging and plastic kitchenware, and it is also present in the inside linings of cans and jar lids.

Humans get exposure through the ingestion of BPA through the mouth, by breathing it in, and through the skin by absorption. The main sources of BPA include food packaging, dust, dental materials (including dental sealants), healthcare equipment, thermal paper (receipts and boarding passes), and children’s toys and other articles.

BPA has a chemical structure with some similarities to real estrogen, and therefore, it can interact with estrogen receptors in strange and various ways, acting in some cases as if it were a powerful estrogen (agonist) and on other organs it acts as an estrogen blocker (antagonist).

BPA is what is known as an endocrine disruptor. It basically creates hormonal chaos throughout the body. Strangely, its initial existence was as a “synthetic estrogen,” proposed to be used as a drug.

BPA has been shown to play a role in the development of several endocrine disorders of women (and men). These include precocious (early onset) puberty, breast tumors, and, of course, our very own Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

We all experience continual exposure to BPA on a daily basis and it bio-accumulates (meaning it’s amount in the body grows steadily), and during pregnancy, BPA accumulates in the fetus more so than in the mother! In rodents, levels of BPA which are comparable to the levels many women are actually exposed to, affects the brain, liver, gut, adipose tissue, insulin producing pancreas tissue, breast tissue, and the reproductive tract structurally and functionally. High levels are associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, in addition to PCOS.

Exposure to BPA while in the womb can alter the very structure of the ovary, increasing the number of cysts and can actually disrupt the development of those critical eggs within the ovaries. Exposure can alter how the genes actually work. The genes can be reprogrammed, resulting in reduced fertility and alteration of the very development of the baby.

BPA has been shown to directly cause higher levels of testosterone to be produced, higher rates of implantation failure, reduced ovarian response to hormonal signals, altered development of the embryo, defective uterine response to hormones, alterations in the function and production of hormones by the pituitary gland, recurrent miscarriage, decreased estrogen response to fertility drug treatments, and premature births!

Given this knowledge of the enormous effects which BPA (and likely many other endocrine disrupting chemicals) have and their potential role in the development of PCOS, what is one to do?

  1. Avoid plastic like the plague! Don’t store food in it, use plastic utensils, or microwave in it. Remember that the chemicals are most likely to leach out and into the food when the food is warm, so if you must use plastic, only use it with cold food. Try not to touch receipts, don’t buy food from cans, and place water in glass or stainless steel containers as much as possible!
  2. Get your BPA levels checked. There are labs which do BPA testing.
  3. Eat a high fiber diet, low in protein and with moderate amounts of healthy fats. 
  4. Keep stress controlled.
  5. Use supplements advocated by myself and PCOS Diva to control inflammation and assist proper metabolic functioning.
  6. Consider supplementation with bio-identical hormones. 

Though we cannot change your in-utero and childhood exposures to BPA and other endocrine disruptors, there is so much we can do to ameliorate the damage which they did and continue to inflict.

Stay optimistic and true to your cause to stay on the path towards optimal wellness!

Feel free to contact me at my office website for further information on bio-identical hormones and how to get your BPA level tested.

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: