Neonatal outcomes after late-gestation exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Luke E. Grzeskowiak, Andrew L. Gilbert, Janna L. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to investigate neonatal outcomes after prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during late-gestation. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using linked records from the Women's and Children's Health Network in South Australia, Australia, including the Perinatal Statistics Collection and the Hospital Pharmacy Dispensing Records. Women were eligible to participate if they gave birth to singleton, live-born infants between September 2000 and December 2008 (n = 33,965). Women were excluded if they received a dispensing for antidepressants other than SSRIs (n = 93) or an antipsychotic (n = 81). We estimated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for preterm delivery, low birth weight, small-for-gestational age, neonatal hospitalization and length of hospital admission, adjusting for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and medical factors. RESULTS: Two hundred twenty-one women received a dispensing for an SSRI during pregnancy, 1566 had a psychiatric illness but did not receive a dispensing for an SSRI, and 32,004 did not have a psychiatric illness and did not receive a dispensing for an SSRI. Compared to infants of women with a psychiatric illness but no SSRI use, infants of women exposed to SSRIs had an increased risk of preterm delivery (adjusted OR, 2.68; 95% CI, 1.83-3.93), low birth weight (adjusted OR, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.31-3.91), admission to hospital (adjusted OR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.39-2.65), and length of hospital stay longer than 3 days (adjusted OR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.11-3.36) but not small-for-gestational age (adjusted OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.65-1.94). Psychiatric illness but no SSRI use during pregnancy was only associated with an increased likelihood of neonatal hospital admission (adjusted OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.07-1.38). Conclusions: These results add to the growing body of evidence of an association between SSRI exposure during pregnancy and a range of adverse neonatal outcomes, but the potential for confounding according to severity of underlying maternal psychiatric illness requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-621
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • depression
  • low birth weight
  • neonatal outcomes
  • pregnancy
  • preterm birth
  • serotonin reuptake inhibitor


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