Use of sertraline, paroxetine and fluvoxamine by nursing women

Br J Psychiatry. 2001 Aug;179:163-6. doi: 10.1192/bjp.179.2.163.


Background: The pharmacological treatment of depression in nursing women requires information on the magnitude of medication exposure to the infant that may occur through breast milk.

Aims: To examine serum concentrations of antidepressants in infants exposed to these medications through breast-feeding.

Method: Maternal and infant serum concentrations of sertraline, paroxetine and fluvoxamine were determined with high-performance liquid chromatography (limit of detection=1 ng/ml).

Results: No detectable medication was present in any infant exposed to paroxetine (n=16) or fluvoxamine (n=4). Among infants exposed to sertraline (n=30), detectable medication was present in 24% of serum samples. A significant negative correlation was found between infant age and infant serum concentration. Sertraline was significantly more likely to be detected in an infant if the mother's daily dose was 100 mg or higher. No adverse sequelae occurred in any infant.

Conclusions: This study shows that paroxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline produce minimal exposure to infants when taken by nursing mothers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Depression, Postpartum / blood
  • Depression, Postpartum / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Fluvoxamine / blood*
  • Fluvoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Paroxetine / blood*
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / blood*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Sertraline / blood*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Paroxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sertraline