Over the past 15 years, the number of studies investigating the potential teratogenic effects of antidepressants has drastically increased. Prescribing antidepressants during pregnancy is becoming a challenge for health care providers because of conflicting data on their teratogenic potential. A critical systematic review of studies describing the relationship between antidepressant use during pregnancy and its impact on congenital malformations, prematurity, low birth weight (LBW), and child development was undertaken to summarize the current evidence-based findings. Most antidepressants do not pose a major teratogenic risk, although the data supporting this conclusion vary from one type to another. While SSRIs and tricyclics have been examined in a considerable number of studies, only scarce data is available on new antidepressants. The use of paroxetine during organogenesis has been linked to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular malformations. The impact of prenatal exposure to antidepressants on prematurity and LBW remains controversial, and most studies evaluating these outcomes are limited by their small sample size and lack of adequate reference group. Finally, information on the long-term effects of gestational antidepressant use on child development is only starting to emerge, and existing information is too limited to determine the risk.
Keywords: Antidepressants, pregnancy, birth defects, prematurity, low-birth-weight, child development
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