Do Antidepressants in Pregnancy Affect Baby?
Study Shows Some Developmental Milestones May Be Slightly Delayed
Feb. 23, 2010 -- Babies born to women who take antidepressants during pregnancy may experience small delays in reaching certain developmental milestones, but it is not clear if these delays are clinically significant, a study shows.
Compared to children born to women who did not take antidepressants, children born to women who did sat up for the first time, on average, 16 days later and walked almost a month later.
The exposed children still reached these milestones within the range of what is considered normal development. But the findings suggest antidepressant use during pregnancy has some impact on the fetal brain, study researcher Lars Henning Pedersen, MD, PhD, of Denmark's Aarhus University tells WebMD.
"We can't say if this impact is clinically meaningful," Pedersen says. "We really need longer follow-up of these children to say this with more certainty."
Motor Delays Did Not Persist
Animal studies have linked early exposure to antidepressants to lasting behavioral changes, but previous studies in humans have failed to confirm this finding.
In the newly published study, Pedersen and colleagues examined data from close to 82,000 babies born in Denmark between 1996 and 2002.
A total of 415 were born to mothers who used antidepressants during pregnancy, 489 were born to mothers who reported depression but did not take medication, and 81,042 were born to mothers who did not report depression or antidepressant use.
Most of the treated women took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Paxil.
Some took tricyclic antidepressants, a few took the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) Effexor, and a few more took a combination of antidepressants.
The mothers provided information on a wide range of developmental milestones when their babies were around 6 months and 19 months old.
At age 6 months, babies born to mothers who took antidepressants in their second and third trimesters were twice as likely to be unable to sit up without support as babies born to women who didn't take antidepressants.
The delay was significant only for exposed boys, who were three times as likely to need assistance sitting up at age 6 months as unexposed babies.