To examine the impact of pregnancy exposure to antidepressants on infant neurodevelopment.
A prospective, longitudinal study in which antidepressant-exposed (n = 35) and nonexposed (n = 23) infants were administered the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID–III) at 18 months, which measures neurodevelopment across five domains. Data on obstetric and perinatal complications, maternal IQ, presence of mood disorder in pregnancy and up to and including 18 months, and psychosocial status were also collected.
Almost 90% of infants were exposed throughout the second and third trimesters to therapeutic antidepressant doses. Bivariate analysis showed no difference between exposed and unexposed infants in any of the neurodevelopmental outcomes. Maternal depression around birth or up to time of developmental testing was not associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Our results suggest that pregnancy antidepressant exposure (mostly serotonin reuptake inhibitors) is not associated with poorer cognitive, motor or language development outcomes in infants at 18 months. This information supports earlier studies and adds into the available data used by clinicians and mothers making key decisions around the use of antidepressants in pregnancy. However, given the small sample size, and some degree of heterogeneity in terms of antidepressant exposure, these results need to be treated with caution.