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SSRIs, SNRIs exposure in utero predisposes children to developmental vulnerability

21 May 2020

Children of mothers with a mood or anxiety disorder who used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or selective serotonin norepinephrine inhibitor (SNRI) during pregnancy are at high risk of developmental vulnerability as well as of language and cognitive difficulties, a study reports.

Researchers looked at a cohort of 12,072 women who had received a diagnosis of mood or anxiety disorder within 90 days before conception, among whom 2,055 had ≥2 SSRI or SNRI dispensations during pregnancy while 10,017 had no such exposure.

The analysis included 3,048 kindergarten children who had available developmental health data, assessed using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), which is a 104-component questionnaire encompassing five developmental domains. Of the children, 528 were in the exposed group and 2,522 were in the unexposed group.

The proportion of children assessed as vulnerable on ≥2 EDI domains was higher in the exposed group (21.43 percent vs 16.16 percent; adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.43, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.08–1.90).

Children in the exposed group also had a significantly higher risk of having language and/or cognition deficits than those in the unexposed group (aOR, 1.40, 95 percent CI, 1.03–1.90).

While the present data require replication, the study underscores the importance of providing early interventions to kindergarten children who had been exposed to antidepressant medications in utero to help ameliorate later educational challenges, the researchers said.

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