Study suggets the use of anti-depressants during pregnancy is not linked with increased risk of stillbirth or infant death

In a study that included nearly 30,000 women from Nordic countries who had filled a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescription during pregnancy, researchers found no significant association between use of these medications during pregnancy and risk of stillbirth, neonatal death, or postneonatal death, after accounting for factors including maternal psychiatric disease, according to a study in the January 2 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Olof Stephansson, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and colleagues conducted a study to examine whether SSRI exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased risks of stillbirth, neonatal death, and postneonatal death. The study included women with single births from all Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) at different periods from 1996 through 2007. The researchers obtained information on maternal use of SSRIs from prescription registries; maternal characteristics, pregnancy, and neonatal outcomes were obtained from patient and medical birth registries. The authors estimated relative risks of stillbirth, neonatal death, and postneonatal death associated with SSRI use during pregnancy taking into account maternal characteristics and previous psychiatric hospitalization.

“The present study of more than 1.6 million births suggests that SSRI use during pregnancy was not associated with increased risks of stillbirth, neonatal death, or postneonatal death. The increased rates of stillbirth and postneonatal mortality among infants exposed to an SSRI during pregnancy were explained by the severity of the underlying maternal psychiatric disease and unfavorable distribution of maternal characteristics such as cigarette smoking and advanced maternal age.”

“However, decisions regarding use of SSRIs during pregnancy must take into account other perinatal outcomes and the risks associated with maternal mental illness,” the researchers conclude.