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02-01-2013 | General practice | Article

Pregnancy SSRI concern allayed


Free abstract

medwireNews: Concern that the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy may increase the risk of infant mortality is unfounded, suggests a study.

Researchers found no association between SSRI use during pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth, neonatal mortality, or postneonatal mortality among women with single births.

Importantly, although rates of stillbirth and postneonatal death were increased among infants exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy, this was explained by maternal characteristics, notably increased severity of the underlying psychiatric illness, advanced age and cigarette smoking, reports the team, led by Dr Olof Stephansson from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.

The findings come from a study of over 1.5 million women with singleton births in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) between 1996 and 2007.

Women who used an SSRI during pregnancy had higher rates of stillbirth and postneonatal death, but not neonatal death, than those who did not. However, after multivariable adjustment there was no association between SSRI use and any of these outcomes.

Moreover, the odds of each outcome associated with SSRI use were attenuated among mothers who had a history of being hospitalised with psychiatric illness.

Reporting their findings in JAMA, the authors nevertheless conclude: "Decisions about use of SSRIs during pregnancy must take into account other perinatal outcomes and the risks associated with maternal mental illness."

medwireNews is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Caroline Price, Senior medwireNews Reporter