Objective: Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor indicated for depression. The safety of this medication in pregnancy has not been fully established. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether citalopram is associated with an increased incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Study design: Pregnant women who contacted the Motherisk Program, a Teratogen Information Center in Toronto, Ontario, with regard to the safety of citalopram in pregnancy were enrolled in the study. The exposed women were matched to a disease-matched group of women and a nonteratogenic group. All women were matched for age (+/- 2 years) and gestational age at time of first call to the Motherisk (+/- 2 weeks). A structured telephone follow-up interview was conducted following the expected date of confinement.
Results: The total number of pregnant women enrolled in this study was 396 (132 women in each group). A total of 125 women took citalopram at least in the first trimester. Seventy-one (54%) women continued to take the drug throughout pregnancy. One hundred fourteen women (86%) had live births, 14 (11%) had spontaneous abortions, 2 (1.5%) had elective terminations, and 2 (1.5%) experienced stillbirths. Fetal survival rates, mean birth weights, and duration of pregnancy were not statistically different among the 3 groups. Of 108 live-born infants whose mothers were exposed to citalopram in the first trimester, there was 1 (0.9%) male infant born with a major malformation. There was a relative risk of 4.2 (95% confidence interval 1.71-10.26) in neonates exposed to citalopram close to term to be admitted to special-care nurseries as compared with the unexposed infants.
Conclusion: Citalopram use during the period of embryogenesis in pregnancy is not associated with an apparent major teratogenic risk. Late pregnancy use of citalopram is associated with increased risk of poor neonatal adaptation syndrome, recently described with other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.