The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034

Release: June 19, 2000

Mothers who breastfeed and take antidepressants invited to participate in study

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa researchers are beginning a clinical trial to measure antidepressant levels in breastfeeding women who take such medication and the antidepressant levels in their infants.

Mothers age 18 or older, with infants under 6 months of age, who breastfeed at least three times a day and take antidepressants are invited to participate in the study.

Participants will need to make one visit to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, where they will be asked to provide a breast milk sample and one blood sample. A small blood sample (less than 1/4 teaspoon) also will need to be collected from the infant. The test results will be forwarded to the participant and her designated physician(s). Compensation will be provided.

Although most antidepressants appear in breast milk, blood levels for most antidepressants have been measured in fewer than two dozen women and their infants, and some newer drugs have been studied in only a handful of cases or not at all, said Alicia Weissman, M.D., UI assistant professor of family medicine and one of the principal investigators for the study.

"Antidepressive medications offer effective treatment for postpartum depression, which occurs in 10 to 15 percent of women who give birth," Weissman said. "However, when the mother is also breastfeeding, the decision to start medication becomes very difficult."

The study will focus on newer antidepressants that are commonly used as the first line of treatment in primary care settings: Wellbutrin (buproprion), Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Celexa (citalopram), Serzone (nefazodone) and Remeron (mirtazepine).

Katherine Wisner, M.D., Helen C. Levitt Endowed Visiting Professor at the UI College of Medicine, is helping Weissman conduct the study.

For more information, interested participants or health care providers who want to refer patients to the study can contact Weissman at (319) 384-7950 or through the pager system by dialing (319) 356-7000 then entering Weissman's pager number 9041.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.