Objective: To examine the risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn associated with antenatal exposure to antidepressants.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources: Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, and CINAHL from inception to 30 December 2012.
Eligibility: English language studies reporting persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn associated with exposure to antidepressants. Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed the quality of each article.
Results: Of the 3077 abstracts reviewed, 738 papers were retrieved and seven included. All seven studies were above our quality threshold. Quantitative analysis was only possible for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Although exposure to SSRIs in early pregnancy was not associated with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (odds ratio 1.23, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 2.60; P=0.58), exposure in late pregnancy was (2.50, 1.32 to 4.73; P=0.005). Effects were not significant for any of the moderator variables examined, including study design, congenital malformations, and meconium aspiration. It was not possible to assess for the effect of caesarean section, body mass index, or preterm delivery. The absolute risk difference for development of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn after exposure to SSRIs in late pregnancy was 2.9 to 3.5 per 1000 infants; therefore an estimated 286 to 351 women would need to be treated with an SSRI in late pregnancy to result in an average of one additional case of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.
Conclusions: The risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn seems to be increased for infants exposed to SSRIs in late pregnancy, independent of the potential moderator variables examined. A significant relation for exposure to SSRIs in early pregnancy was not evident. Although the statistical association was significant, clinically the absolute risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn remained low even in the context of late exposure to SSRIs.