Birth outcomes after prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Mar;188(3):812-5. doi: 10.1067/mob.2003.172.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine prospectively the incidence of congenital anomalies and neonatal complications after prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication.

Study design: Birth outcomes were obtained from a review of obstetric and neonatal records of 138 women who were treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant medications (SSRIs) during pregnancy.

Results: The incidence of congenital anomalies in this study was 1.4%, comparable to general population rates. Rates of low birth weight and preterm births were low, occurring in 2.9% and 6.5% of births, respectively. The low birth weight infants had been exposed to relatively high doses of fluoxetine (40-80 mg/d) throughout pregnancy. Average maternal weight gain in pregnancy was comparable across the three major medication categories (fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline).

Conclusion: After prenatal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant medications, neonatal complications and congenital anomalies appear to occur within general population rates. However, maternal use of high doses of fluoxetine throughout pregnancy may be associated with a risk for low birth weight.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine