SSRIs and the developing brain.

Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 02/2005; 365(9458):451-3. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)17877-5
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Pharmacotherapy in pregnant women is often necessary to treat chronic or relapsing depression or anxiety disorders. Studies that have evaluated the safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in early pregnancy have not shown an enhanced risk of major congenital malformations and these results may have contributed to the increasing use of these agents during pregnancy. Fewer studies have assessed the safety of SSRIs in the third trimester of pregnancy. This article reviews available human data on the safety of SSRI treatment in the third trimester. The main purpose is to present and discuss the existing literature on the risks to the infant and to suggest treatment guidelines for the use of SSRIs in late pregnancy. The use of SSRIs in the third trimester has shown various perinatal complications, most frequently respiratory distress, irritability and feeding problems. Further studies are needed to evaluate the frequency of these complications and to elucidate whether the symptoms represent a direct serotonergic effect or are a drug withdrawal effect. Studies have shown conflicting results with respect to whether SSRI exposure decreases birthweight and increases the risk of premature delivery. A few case reports have described intracerebral haemorrhage in neonates after maternal SSRI treatment, but it is not known whether the frequency of such complications is higher than in unexposed neonates. Data on possible long-term effects of prenatal SSRI exposure on psychomotor and behavioural development are very sparse. Our interpretation of the current literature suggests that the risk of not receiving adequate antidepressant treatment in the third trimester when indicated outweighs the risks of adverse events in the infant. Thus, adequate pharmacological treatment should not be withheld from a depressed pregnant woman in late pregnancy. However, the neonate should be monitored for possible adverse effects after maternal use of an SSRI in the third trimester.
    Drug Safety 02/2005; 28(7):565-81. DOI:10.2165/00002018-200528070-00002 · 2.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review was to assess existing information about the long-term neurocognitive development of children whose mothers took SSRIs during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding. The available literature consists of 11 studies (examining a total of 306 children) that demonstrate no impairment of infant neurodevelopment following prenatal and/or postnatal exposure to SSRIs, and two studies (examining 81 children) that suggest possible unwanted effects of fetal SSRI exposure. These unwanted effects included subtle effects on motor development and motor control. Thus, the available data are not unanimous in excluding possible long-term detrimental neurodevelopmental sequelae of intrauterine exposure to SSRIs. However, it is clear that the research suggesting a lack of adverse events on infants' neurocognitive development is much more numerous and methodologically better conducted than the studies showing possible unwanted effects. Nevertheless, all reviewed studies had procedural inadequacies, and the screening instruments used have limitations, especially in the evaluation of infants. Furthermore, it is not advisable to extend the generalisations emerging from the findings of a few trials to every infant. Some infants may experience difficulties in metabolising the drugs and/or their metabolites, so the benign outcome described for most infants may not occur. Thus, the findings emerging from the reports are inconclusive and are not able to fully clarify the repercussions of maternal SSRI treatment on infants' long-term neurocognitive development. Further large, simple and well designed, randomised, prospective studies will be required for this purpose. These should also be of adequate length and performed using reproducible neurophysiological parameters in order to firmly establish the safety of these medications.
    CNS Drugs 02/2005; 19(7):623-33. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    BMJ (online) 03/2005; 330(7488):373-4. DOI:10.1136/bmj.330.7488.373 · 16.38 Impact Factor
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