Antidepressants during pregnancy pose little risk to newborn

3 June 2015

A new study has shown that prescribing antidepressants to pregnant women poses little risk to the unborn child.

Previously, there were concerns that taking antidepressants in the latter stages of pregnancy could increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

However, new, more comprehensive, research has found that the risk is minimal. A team at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at the risk of PPHN associated with antidepressants by examining data of publicly insured pregnant women across the US.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the research analysed more than three million pregnant women who had been enrolled in Medicaid throughout their pregnancy.

It found that 3.4 per cent had filled at least one prescription for an antidepressant late in pregnancy. Overall, 20.8 per 10,000 infants not exposed to antidepressants during the last 90 days of pregnancy had PPHN compared with 31.0 per 10,000 infants exposed to antidepressants. 

The researchers conclude that there is no significant increase in the risk of PPHN associated with antidepressants.

Dr Krista Huybrechts, corresponding author of the study and epidemiologist in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at BWH, said patients and doctors need to "balance the potential small increase in the risk of PPHN".

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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