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5-HTP vs SSRIs for pregnancy and breastfeeding

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  • 5-HTP vs SSRIs for pregnancy and breastfeeding

    Would 5-HTP, taken as naturopathic treatment for depression at a dose of 300 mg/day, pose similar risks to SSRIs during pregnancy and lactation? More, less?

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Dear Halpina,

    5-hydroxytroptophan (5-HTP) is likely excreted into human milk since it easily passes through the blood brain barrier. The effects toward the infant are unknown, use during breastfeeding is ill advised. Usage of L-Tryptophan for depression is not recommended due to the extremely high doses needed and lack of effectiveness. Suitable alternatives for depression are the SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants. In pregnancy, 5 HTP is in Category: C. 5-HTP should not be used during pregnancy due to the untoward effects seen in both animal and human models. During pregnancy, you should have a risk/benefit discussion with your OB physician as SSRI's and trycyclic antidepressants do have some risk in pregnancy but depression itself may have an adverse effect on the fetus. Your physician will be able to assess your risks and discuss your treatment options with you. After talking with your physician and after making your medical plan, call the InfantRisk Center at 806-352-2519, and we will be glad to talk with you about the research available for your medications. We are open 8 to 5, CDT, Monday through Friday.

    Sincerely,
    Cindy Pride, MSN, CPNP
    TTUHSC InfantRisk Center

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