Antipsychotic therapy during early and late pregnancy. A systematic review

Schizophr Bull. 2010 May;36(3):518-44. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn107. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


Objective: Both first- (FGAs) and second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) are routinely used in treating severe and persistent psychiatric disorders. However, until now no articles have analyzed systematically the safety of both classes of psychotropics during pregnancy. DATA SOURCES AND SEARCH STRATEGY: Medical literature information published in any language since 1950 was identified using MEDLINE/PubMed, TOXNET, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library. Additional references were identified from the reference lists of published articles. Bibliographical information, including contributory unpublished data, was also requested from companies developing drugs. Search terms were pregnancy, psychotropic drugs, (a)typical-first-second-generation antipsychotics, and neuroleptics. A separate search was also conducted to complete the safety profile of each reviewed medication. Searches were last updated on July 2008.

Data selection: All articles reporting primary data on the outcome of pregnancies exposed to antipsychotics were acquired, without methodological limitations.

Conclusions: Reviewed information was too limited to draw definite conclusions on structural teratogenicity of FGAs and SGAs. Both classes of drugs seem to be associated with an increased risk of neonatal complications. However, most SGAs appear to increase risk of gestational metabolic complications and babies large for gestational age and with mean birth weight significantly heavier as compared with those exposed to FGAs. These risks have been reported rarely with FGAs. Hence, the choice of the less harmful option in pregnancy should be limited to FGAs in drug-naive patients. When pregnancy occurs during antipsychotic treatment, the choice to continue the previous therapy should be preferred.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*


  • Antipsychotic Agents