The impact of exposure to antidepressant medications during pregnancy on neonatal outcomes: a review of retrospective database cohort studies

Casey R. Tak, Kathleen M. Job, Katie Schoen-Gentry, Sarah C. Campbell, Patrick Carroll, Maged Costantine, Diana Brixner, Angela K. Birnbaum, Catherine M.T. Sherwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: Concerns with prescription antidepressant use in pregnant women have instigated the examination of potential associations between fetal exposure to antidepressant medication and outcomes including preterm delivery, congenital malformations, perinatal and post-natal adverse events, persistent pulmonary hypertension, and mortality. The retrospective cohort model is an often utilized study design. The objective of this review is to evaluate the literature on antidepressant use in pregnancy conducted as retrospective cohorts in national/regional medical, or claims databases that assess neonatal and infant outcomes for agreement between studies, ultimately providing a methodological and outcomes summary for future scientific endeavors. Methods: PubMed was searched for literature relating to antidepressant use and infant outcomes from the earliest available date through July 15, 2016. Studies with a retrospective cohort design and conducted in national/regional medical or claims databases were included. Searched outcomes included preterm delivery, congenital malformations, low birth weight, small for gestational age, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and other select adverse events comprising low Apgar score (5 min), convulsions/seizures, respiratory distress/problems, fetal mortality, and infant mortality. Results: Of the 784 studies identified, 36 retrospective cohort studies met eligibility criteria. An increase in preterm delivery and respiratory distress/problems and no increase in congenital malformation or fetal and infant death were associated with prenatal use of prescription antidepressants by majority consensus (at least 2/3 [67%] of studies). Conclusions: While consensus indicates that perinatal prescription antidepressant use has consequences for the fetus and infant, there are notable inconsistencies in the literature. More investigations that address prenatal exposure to depression and other important covariates are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1069
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported within internal funds in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Department of Pediatrics in the University of Utah.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Antidepressants
  • Database
  • Maternal-fetal pharmacology
  • Neonatal outcomes
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective cohort study


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