Antidepressants during pregnancy: a French drug utilisation study in EFEMERIS cohort

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2019 Oct;269(7):841-849. doi: 10.1007/s00406-018-0906-2. Epub 2018 May 26.


Background: Previous studies have suggested that exposure to some antidepressants (AD) during pregnancy could be associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations and neurodevelopment disorders for the child. We conducted a study to describe the use of AD during pregnancy in France.

Methods: We performed a drug utilisation study in EFEMERIS, a French cohort of pregnant women. At the time of the present study, 89,170 pregnant women, who were pregnant from 2005 to 2014 in Haute-Garonne were included. Prevalence and incidence of AD prescriptions during pregnancy, characteristics of AD users, and trends in AD use over the 10-year period were studied.

Results: During the 10-year study period, 1620 women registered in EFEMERIS (1.8%) received at least one prescription and dispensation for AD during pregnancy: 1363 during the first (1.5%), 591 during the second (0.7%), and 412 during the third (0.5%) trimester. A total of 2874 women (3.2%) got a prescription for an AD during the 3 months before and/or during pregnancy; 2187 of them (76.1%) stopped AD before pregnancy or during the first trimester. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors represented the most prescribed class during pregnancy (1.3%). A very slight decrease in the prevalence of AD prescriptions in pregnant women over time (1.7% in 2014 vs 2% in 2005) and some variations within classes were observed.

Conclusions: Nearly, 2% of women received antidepressant drugs during pregnancy. This assessment encourages following research on these drugs including the potential risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children after an exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy.

Keywords: Antidepressant drugs; Drug utilisation study; Pregnancy; Psychotropic drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors