Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in pregnancy and infant outcomes

Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Nov;16(9):562-3. doi: 10.1093/pch/16.9.562.
[Article in English, French]


Adequate treatment of depression during pregnancy is very important for maternal, fetal and neonatal health. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used antidepressants. According to one American study, approximately 7% of pregnant women were prescribed an SSRI in 2004-2005. First trimester use of SSRIs, as a group, is unlikely to increase the risk of congenital malformations. Paroxetine may be associated with a small increased risk of cardiac malformations, but evidence remains inconclusive. Fetal exposure to SSRIs closer to time of birth may result in respiratory, motor, central nervous system and gastrointestinal symptoms in about 10% to 30% of newborns (SSRI neonatal behaviour syndrome). These symptoms are usually mild and transient. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is an extremely rare consequence of fetal exposure. This information should be used to make individual risk-benefit decisions when considering the treatment of depression during pregnancy. Newborns with late-pregnancy exposure to SSRIs should be observed in hospital for at least 48 h.

Keywords: Depression in pregnancy; Neonatal abstinence; Neonatal behaviour syndrome; Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.