Antidepressants in Pregnancy: A Review of Commonly Prescribed Medications

Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
Obstetrical & gynecological survey (Impact Factor: 1.86). 12/2011; 66(12):777-87. DOI: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e31823e0cbf
Source: PubMed


Perinatal depression is an increasingly common comorbidity of pregnancy and is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Newer classes of antidepressants have been developed with a variety of mechanisms and improved side effect profiles. There is increasing use of these medications in reproductive-aged women. Medical providers have to balance the need to prevent relapse of maternal depressive symptoms with the need to minimize fetal exposure to medications. We review the literature on 10 of the most commonly used antidepressant medications: citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, duloxetine, bupropion, and mirtazapine. The pharmacokinetic properties of the medications are detailed, as well as practical considerations for their use in pregnant and lactating women. Guidance on counseling and management of pregnancies complicated by perinatal depression is discussed. TARGET AUDIENCE: Obstetricians & Gynecologists and Family Physicians. LEARNING OBJECTIVes: After completing this CME activity, physicians should be better able to differentiate the current classes of medications utilized commonly for perinatal depression, evaluate the reported adverse effects of antidepressant medications on the patient and developing fetus and choose the appropriate antidepressant medications for a depressed patient who is breast-feeding.

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    • "The FDA has classified VENF as category C with regard to pregnancy risk. This means that there have not been well-controlled studies in humans examining safety or that animal studies have demonstrated adverse effects to the developing fetus (Patil et al., 2011). Increased monoamine levels in the developing brain due to prenatal and perinatal VENF may interfere with functional maturation of the brain and increase the risk for neurobehavioral and mental disorders. "
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    ABSTRACT: About 3% of pregnant women are treated with antidepressant drugs during gestation. After delivery the number of treated women increases to 5 to 7%. Most prescribed antidepressants in pregnancy are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and/or serotonin and noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram and venlafaxine (VENF). Despite the fact that VENF has been assigned to pregnancy category C by the FDA, experimental studies with this drug are rare. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the effect of prenatal administration of VENF on early postnatal development of rat offspring and selected biochemical variables at weaning of pups. Pregnant female Wistar rats were treated with VENF from day 15 to 20 of gestation at the doses of 7.5, 37.5 and 70 mg/kg. Females were allowed to spontaneously deliver their pups. After delivery the pups were inspected for viability, gross malformation and they were weighed on day 0, 4 and 21 post partum. On day 21 post partum, the pups were killed, brains were removed from the skulls and blood samples were collected for biochemical assay (proteins, glucose-GOD, glucose-HEX, lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and total antioxidant status). The study showed that prenatal VENF administration resulted in a mild maternal intoxication manifested by decreased body weight gain of pregnant females. There was no effect of the drug tested on the body and brain weights of offspring. No obvious morphological alterations were observed in the delivered pups. Similarly, there were no changes in the selected biochemical variables determined.
    Interdisciplinary toxicology 06/2012; 5(2):92-7. DOI:10.2478/v10102-012-0016-3
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    ABSTRACT: Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, regulates a variety of physiological processes, such as cell proliferation and apoptosis, in mammalian cells. Little is known about the role of fluoxetine in early embryonic development. This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of fluoxetine during mouse early embryonic development. Late two-cell stage embryos (2-cells) were cultured in the presence of various concentrations of fluoxetine (1 to 50μM) for different durations. When late 2-cells were incubated with 5μM fluoxetine for 6h, the percentage that developed into blastocysts increased compared to the control value. However, late 2-cells exposed to fluoxetine (5μM) over 24h showed a reduction in blastocyst formation. The addition of fluoxetine (5μM) together with KN93 or KN62 (calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) inhibitors) failed to increase blastocyst formation. Fluoxetine treatment inhibited TREK-1 and TREK-2, members of the two-pore domain K(+) channel family expressed in mouse embryos, activities, indicating that fluoxetine-induced membrane depolarization in late 2-cells might have resulted from TREK inhibition. In addition, long-term exposure to fluoxetine altered the TREK mRNA expression levels. Furthermore, injection of siRNA targeting TREKs significantly decreased blastocyst formation by ~30% compared to injection of scrambled siRNA. Long-term exposure of fluoxetine had no effect on blastocyst formation of TREK deficient embryos. These results indicate that low-dose and short-term exposures of late 2-cells to fluoxetine probably increase blastocyst formation through activation of CaMKII-dependent signal transduction pathways, whereas long-term exposure decreases mouse early embryonic development through inhibition of TREK channel gating.
    Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 09/2012; 265(1). DOI:10.1016/j.taap.2012.09.020 · 3.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence supports the premise that maternal psychological distress adversely affects pregnancy outcomes and that inflammatory markers and placentally-produced corticotrophin-releasing hormone (pCRH) are likely mediating factors. The primary aim of the study was to explore the associations between maternal psychological distress, use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, pCRH, and maternal plasma inflammatory markers during pregnancy. Measures of maternal plasma pCRH, Interleukins-1, 6, & 10, C-Reactive Protein, Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor, and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α were completed in 100 pregnant women. Measures of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress were completed, as well as collection of demographic/behavioral data, e.g. use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Significant correlations were found at 14-20 weeks gestation between IL-6 & 10, and depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. Also at 14 - 20 weeks gestation, IL10 levels were significantly lower in women with 4th quartile pCRH levels and IL1β, IL6, and IL10 were significantly lower among women who took an SSRI during pregnancy. After controlling for maternal age, BMI, pCRH level, and SSRI use, psychological distress remained to explain variation in maternal inflammatory markers. These results might suggest that future research should focus on whether depression and anxiety are effectively being treated during pregnancy, and how such a scenario might contribute to an immune system pathway to poor pregnancy outcome.
    Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 02/2013; 3(1A):184-191. DOI:10.4236/ojog.2013.31A034
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