[Antidepressant drugs and breastfeeding]

Recenti Prog Med. 2007 Jan;98(1):29-42.
[Article in Italian]


The post-partum period, as well as pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and/or affective disorders. Postnatal depression, frequently in co-morbidity with anxiety symptoms, is recognised as the most frequent form of maternal morbidity after delivery, with a prevalence rate estimated between 5% to 15%. Among antidepressant drugs, the SSRIs are considered the drugs of choice in the treatment of post-partum affective disorders, particularly in the major depression. It is, thus, crucial from a clinical standpoint to establish, in the newborn whose mother needs to be treated with an SSRI, the safety profile of these drugs during breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding, on the other hand, both for the nursing mother and the infant, are in fact very well documented. Unfortunately, all antidepressant drugs, including SSRIs, cross into breast milk and the milk-to-plasma ratio, a measure proposed to establish the amount of drug transferred to maternal milk, does not seem to be a reliable parameter to predict the safety of these drugs. From the available literature, however, it seems that among SSRIs, paroxetina and sertralina offer the best safety profile, as these drugs has never been associated with unsafe reports in suckling infants. Despite these reassuring but preliminary data, more studies are needed to better assess the safety of the antidepressant drugs in the infants exposed during breastfeeding. As general rule, it is important to recommend if the mother wishes to breastfeed her infant while taking an antidepressant, that the baby should be closely monitored in order to detect, as soon as possible, any unwanted drug-related side effect.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Depression, Postpartum / drug therapy*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Risk Factors
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors