Trazodone During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 26, 2012

According to studies, about 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers experience depression at some point in their pregnancy. However, use of antidepressants such as trazodone during pregnancy and breastfeeding is debatable because of the potential risks on the unborn child. On the other hand, medical experts believe that the emotional health of the mother is as equally important as the physical health. In fact, depression can greatly affect the outcome of pregnancy.

Can Pregnant Women Take Trazodone?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies trazodone as a Pregnancy Category C medication. This means that the drug has not been fully studied in pregnant humans but animal studies suggest that it can cause harm on the unborn fetus. Trazodone may still be given to pregnant humans if there is a clear need or if the perceived benefits are greater than the potential risks.

Animal studies conducted on rats have shown that trazodone increases the risk of miscarriages. In a different animal study conducted on pregnant rabbits, it has shown that trazodone increases the risk of congenital anomalies or birth defects. As of to-date, there are inadequate data or well-controlled studies that evaluate the safety of trazodone in pregnant women.

If you become pregnant while taking trazodone, contact your healthcare provider right away. Patients are also advised to discuss with their healthcare provider any plans of becoming pregnant during the treatment. Since depression during pregnancy poses health risks on the unborn child, your healthcare provider may consider the benefits and risks of trazodone before making any recommendation. Each patient experiences a different situation, and your healthcare provider is in the best position to give you appropriate advice.

Can Breastfeeding Mothers Take Trazodone?

Animal studies show that small amount of trazodone is excreted into the breastmilk. It suggests that the drug may also be secreted into human milk. However, the trazodone levels in milk are relatively low and are not expected to cause serious side effects on the breastfed infant, especially in infants older than 2 months or when trazodone dose is less than 100 mg. In a case report of an infant breastfed by a mother taking trazodone 200 mg per day for 12 weeks, from fourth week of age, no adverse effects had been noted on the growth and development of the child. Other studies show the same results.

However, when using trazodone in breastfeeding women, caution should be taken to avoid side effects on the infant. Furthermore, infants exposed to trazodone in the breastmilk should be monitored for any unwanted effects.