Psychiatric conditions (including substance misuse disorders) are serious, potentially life threatening illnesses that can be successfully treated by psychotropic drugs, even during pregnancy. Because few rigorously designed prospective studies have examined the safety of these drugs during pregnancy, the default clinical recommendation has been to discontinue them, especially during the first trimester. However, in the past decade, as more evidence has accumulated, it seems that most psychotropic drugs are relatively safe to use in pregnancy and that not using them when indicated for serious psychiatric illness poses a greater risk to both mother and child, including tragic outcomes like suicide and infanticide. This review presents an up to date and careful examination of the most rigorous scientific studies on the effects of psychotropic drugs in pregnancy. The lack of evidence in several areas means that definite conclusions cannot be made about the risks and benefits of all psychotropic drug use in pregnancy.
© BMJ Publishing Group Ltd 2015.