Use of antidepressants during pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: An umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies

J Psychiatr Res. 2020 May:124:99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.02.023. Epub 2020 Feb 26.


Background: Pregnant women who suffer from depressive disorders are likely to be treated with antidepressant (AD) medications. Recent meta-analyses underlined the possible relation between AD use and several neonatal outcomes, although the underlying mechanisms remains unclear.

Methods: To summarise and evaluate the associations between AD use in pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, we conducted an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies published up to December 2019 in PubMed and Embase. Summary risk estimates for the associations between use of AD as a whole, or specific AD classes and drugs, and the risk of neonatal outcomes were reported.

Results: Our review included 22 meta-analyses investigating 69 associations. However, none were supported by convincing evidence. Highly suggestive evidence regarded the associations between (i) any time AD exposure and the risk of preterm birth (relative risk, 1.68; 95% confidence interval 1.52, 1.86), (ii) any time exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the risk of preterm birth (1.43; 1.22, 1.37) and (iii) respiratory distress (1.33; 1.14, 1.55), and (iv) SSRI exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy and the risk of cardiovascular malformations (1.25; 1.13, 1.39). Suggestive evidence was obtained for any time AD exposure on 1-min low Apgar score (absolute average difference, -0.34; -0.53, -0.14).

Conclusions: Overall, the effects of AD exposure during pregnancy on neonatal outcomes have been extensively studied, but few of the associations are graded as high quality evidence. More prospective studies and large collaborations with comprehensive standardised reporting of analyses are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth* / chemically induced
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors