Objective: To compare the structural growth and developmental outcome of children born to mothers diagnosed with major depressive disorder during pregnancy who were exposed or not exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in utero.
Study design: Children whose mothers were diagnosed with major depressive disorder in pregnancy and elected not to take medication (n = 13) were compared with children of depressed mothers treated with SSRIs (n = 31) on birth outcomes and postnatal neurodevelopmental functioning between ages 6 and 40 months. Children underwent blinded standardized pediatric and dysmorphology examinations and evaluations of their mental and psychomotor development with the use of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID II).
Results: The Bayley mental developmental indexes were similar in both groups. Children exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy had lower APGAR scores and scored lower on the Bayley psychomotor development indexes and the motor quality factor of the Bayley Behavioral Rating Scale than unexposed children.
Conclusions: The findings that SSRIs during fetal development might have subtle effects on motor development and motor control are consistent with the pharmacologic properties of the drugs.