Antipsychotics cause problems during pregnancy

Just about every doctor recognizes that pregnant women shouldn't drink or smoke -- but many of those same doctors won't think twice about prescribing powerful drugs that can be even more harmful than cigarettes to mom and baby alike.

I just don't get it.

Now, a new study highlights the dangers of one common class of meds to both mom and her baby: Antipsychotic drugs can double the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnant women and increase the risk of problems with baby, including small size at birth and oversized heads.

To be fair, some of those increases in risk shrank when researchers made some adjustments. But some -- including that increased head size -- didn't.

And those aren't the only risks that come along with using antipsychotics during pregnancy.

Last year, the FDA issued a warning that babies born to mothers who take these drugs can experience withdrawal symptoms as well as abnormal muscle movements.

The feds say most of these problems disappear on their own, but it's hardly reassuring to a new parent who has to watch a baby shake with tremors, gasp for breath, and even have trouble feeding.

But what's even more disturbing than the research we have is the research we don't -- because there's surprisingly little out there on what these drugs do to pregnant women and their children.

Some docs will tell you that means the drugs haven't been proven unsafe, but that's exactly the attitude that's led to so much harm in medicine today.

Instead of waiting for a drug to be proven unsafe, doctors need to make sure a drug is proven safe before they give it to a patient -- especially if that patient is pregnant.

I strongly recommend depressed mothers and their doctors consider safe alternatives such as fish oil, B vitamins, and homeopathic remedies as a first line of therapy for depression.