Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and patterns of exposure to antidepressants before, during and after pregnancy in a cohort including all pregnant women in Denmark between 1997 and 2010.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study including 912 322 pregnancies. Information was retrieved from the Danish Birth Registry and The Register of Medicinal Product Statistics to identify women redeeming an antidepressant prescription during pregnancy. Exposure periods were based on standard treatment doses and dispensed pack sizes.
Results: We identified 19 740 pregnancies exposed to an antidepressant at some point during pregnancy. The rate of exposure increased from 0.2% in 1997 to 3.2% in 2010. We found that the rate of exposure was halved during the first 3 months of pregnancy. In contrast, we describe a clear increase in exposure after pregnancy among pre-delivery treatment-naïve women.
Conclusions: In spite of uncertainty concerning antidepressants' safety during pregnancy we find a 16-fold increase in exposure rates between 1997 and 2010. The rates describe a sharp decrease in exposure during pregnancy that is probably caused by physicians' hesitation to prescribe antidepressants and women's fear of unwanted effects on the unborn child. More studies are needed to clarify the consequences of antidepressant discontinuation during pregnancy.