Use of antipsychotics in the management of schizophrenia during pregnancy

Drugs. 2005;65(9):1193-206. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200565090-00002.


The rapid development of pharmacotherapy has resulted in a growing clinical importance for the treatment of the increasing number of women with schizophrenia during pregnancy. An evolving database on reproductive health safety factors for women with schizophrenia has begun to be of assistance in optimising clinical benefits for women with childbearing potential. Given the prevalence of antipsychotic use during pregnancy in women with schizophrenia, it is important for the clinician to have a prepared approach to the administration of these agents. In general, the use of psychotropic medication during pregnancy is indicated when risk to the fetus from exposure to this medication is outweighed by the risks of untreated psychiatric illness in the mother. The preponderance of evidence from registries to large health surveys indicate that treatment with antipsychotic medication confers either no or a small nonspecific risk for organ malformations. According to the relevant literature published on the safety of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy, the findings are encouraging; however, the currently available data are very limited. Until there are more controlled prospective data on the impact of drugs on fetal and later development, the clinician will continue to work in a state of potential uncertainty, weighing partially estimated risks against managing individual clinical problems. The aim for the clinician should be to provide the best information available regarding the scope of possible risks associated with the treatment of schizophrenia during pregnancy. On the basis of the available data, generalisation is impossible and recommendations should be made on a drug-by-drug basis. The risks and benefits must always be carefully weighed for each patient on an individual basis. Only a woman who is well enough to acknowledge her pregnancy and her mental illness can effectively weigh the relative and partially unknown risks of treatment with antipsychotic medication against the highly probable risks of illness exacerbation if untreated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*


  • Antipsychotic Agents