Article

Neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to psychotropic medications.

Department of Mental Health, ASL "Salerno", Mental Health Center, Cava de' Tirreni, Salerno, Italy.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.29). 07/2010; 27(7):675-86. DOI: 10.1002/da.20706
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Until now, studies on the reproductive safety of psychotropics have typically assessed the risk of congenital malformations and perinatal complications associated with in utero exposure to such medications. However, little is known of their inherent potential neurobehavioral teratogenicity. The objective is to analyze available data from studies investigating developmental outcome of children exposed prenatally to psychotropics. A computerized Medline/PubMed/TOXNET/ENBASE search (1960-2010) was conducted using the following keywords: pregnancy, child/infant development/neurodevelopment, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. A separate search was also run to complete the safety profile of single specific medications. Resultant articles were cross-referenced for other relevant articles not identified in the initial search. A noncomputerized review of pertinent journals and textbooks was also performed. All studies published in English and reporting primary data on the developmental outcome of infants exposed in utero to psychotropics and born without malformations were collected. As regards antiepileptic drugs, only studies that provided data on specific medications approved for psychiatric practice use (carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and valproate) were considered. Data were extracted from 41 articles (38 identified electronically and 3 nonelectronically), which met the inclusion criteria. Despite reviewed studies showing relevant methodological limitations, concordant, albeit preliminary, information seems to exclude that prenatal exposure to both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants may interfere with the infants' psychological and cognitive development. Conversely, information on valproate strongly discourages its use in pregnant women. Moreover, although data on carbamazepine remain controversial, information on whole classes of drugs and single medications is either absent (second-generation antipsychotics) or too limited (first-generation antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, lithium, and lamotrigine) to inform the decision-making process. For all classes of psychotropics, new and/or further studies are warranted to answer definitively the urgent question about the impact of prenatal exposure to such medications on infant development.

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