Acupuncture Benefit Seen in Pregnancy
By Shirley Wang
Acupuncture designed to treat depression appears to improve symptoms in pregnant women, suggesting it as an alternative to antidepressant medication during pregnancy, a study found.
The study, published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, is the largest to date examining the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat depression in pregnant women. It was funded by a grant from the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "Acupuncture that we have tested works for pregnant, depressed women," said Rachel Manber, a study author and professor at Stanford University. However, "no single study is enough to make policy recommendations," she said.
Depression in pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is associated in some studies with poorer cognitive and emotional development in children. Some have linked depression in pregnancy and low birth weight.
As many as 14% of pregnant women are thought to develop a significant depression at some point during their pregnancy, according to the study authors, comparable to numbers who suffer from postpartum depression. Antidepressants are generally considered safe for use in pregnancy, but research has been limited and concerns continue to grow, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. One study showed that the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension, a potentially serious lung condition, is significantly greater in newborns whose mother took antidepressants later in pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that patients and physicians "carefully consider and discuss together" the benefits and risks taking antidepressants during pregnancy."Antidepressants are not an attractive option for many women," said Dr. Manber. "Many women are concerned about using antidepressant medication during pregnancy."