Risk of Miscarriage in Women Receiving Antidepressants in Early Pregnancy, Correcting for Induced Abortions

Epidemiology. 2016 Jul;27(4):538-46. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000484.


Background: Earlier studies on the association between antidepressant use and miscarriage have obtained conflicting results after accounting for the role of depression, and none have taken into account the high risk of induced abortions in women using antidepressants.

Methods: We identified 41,964 pregnant women delivering between 1998 and 2002 using Quebec's health administration databases. We compared women prescribed antidepressants in the first trimester and with a recorded diagnosis of depression before pregnancy to (1) women with neither antidepressant use nor a depression diagnosis before or during pregnancy; (2) women with a depression diagnosis before pregnancy, but no antidepressants prescribed in the first trimester; and (3) women prescribed hypothyroid medication in the first trimester, but not antidepressants. We used log binomial regression to assess the adjusted relative risk of miscarriage, corrected for induced abortion risk.

Results: The miscarriage risk uncorrected for induced abortions was 16%, 10%, and 9% for depressed women exposed to antidepressants; unexposed depressed women; and unexposed, nondepressed women, respectively. These decreased to 11%, 8%, and 7% after correction for induced abortions. In multivariable analysis, the corrected risk of miscarriage relative to unexposed, nondepressed women was 1.3 (1.1-1.5) for antidepressant-exposed women and 1.1 (1.0-1.2) for unexposed depressed women. The miscarriage relative risk for antidepressant users compared with unexposed depressed women was thus 1.2 (1.0-1.4).

Conclusions: Antidepressant use in the first trimester is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage when compared with either nondepressed or depressed unexposed women, even after accounting for induced abortions.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First*
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents