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Keywords:

  • Antidepressants;
  • congenital anomaly;
  • depression;
  • SSRIs;
  • TCAs

Objective

To estimate risks of major congenital anomaly (MCA) among children of mothers prescribed antidepressants during early pregnancy or diagnosed with depression but without antidepressant prescriptions.

Design

Population-based cohort study.

Setting

Linked UK maternal–child primary care records.

Population

A total of 349 127 singletons liveborn between 1990 and 2009.

Methods

Odds ratios adjusted for maternal sociodemographics and comorbidities (aORs) were calculated for MCAs, comparing women with first-trimester selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and women with diagnosed but unmedicated depression, or women without diagnosed depression.

Main outcome measures

Fourteen system-specific MCA groups classified according to the European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies and five specific heart anomaly groups.

Results

Absolute risks of MCA were 2.7% (95% confidence interval, 95% CI, 2.6–2.8%) in children of mothers without diagnosed depression, 2.8% (95% CI 2.5–3.2%) in children of mothers with unmedicated depression, and 2.7% (95% CI 2.2–3.2%) and 3.1% (95% CI 2.2–4.1%) in children of mothers with SSRIs or TCAs, respectively. Compared with women without depression, MCA overall was not associated with unmedicated depression (aOR 1.07, 95% CI 0.96–1.18), SSRIs (aOR 1.01, 95% CI 0.88–1.17), or TCAs (aOR 1.09, 95% CI 0.87–1.38). Paroxetine was associated with increased heart anomalies (absolute risk 1.4% in the exposed group compared with 0.8% in women without depression; aOR 1.78, 95% CI 1.09–2.88), which decreased marginally when compared with women with diagnosed but unmedicated depression (aOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.00–2.80).

Conclusions

Overall MCA risk did not increase with maternal depression or with antidepressant prescriptions. Paroxetine was associated with increases of heart anomalies, although this could represent a chance finding from a large number of comparisons undertaken.