Sustained neurobehavioral effects of exposure to SSRI antidepressants during development: molecular to clinical evidence

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;86(6):672-7. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2009.201. Epub 2009 Nov 4.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are frequently used in the management of antenatal maternal mood disturbances. SSRIs readily cross the placenta and increase central serotonergic tone in the fetus. Given serotonin's key neurodevelopmental role, such prenatal exposure raises concerns about its impact on child development. Preclinical studies report enduring molecular, physiological, and behavioral consequences of developmental SSRI exposure. In humans, sustained developmental outcomes remain largely unstudied, and distinguishing between the effects of prenatal SSRI exposure and the impact of maternal mental illness remains a key challenge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / drug effects*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Animal
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors