Nav: Home

Exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy associated with increased risk of speech/language disorders

October 12, 2016

The children of mothers who had depression-related psychiatric disorders and purchased selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) at least twice when they were pregnant had an increased risk for speech/language disorders but further studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn about possible clinical implications, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

The use of SSRIs during pregnancy is increasing. SSRIs cross the placenta and enter the fetal circulation.

Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H., of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Mailman School of Public Health, New York, and coauthors examined exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy and the risk of speech/ language, scholastic and motor disorders in children up to early adolescence. The authors used register data in Finland from 1996 to 2010 and the final study group included 56,340 infants (about 51 percent male).

The offspring were divided into three groups:
  • 15,596 were in the SSRI-exposed group because their mothers were diagnosed as having depression-related psychiatric disorders with a history of purchasing SSRIs during pregnancy.
  • 9,537 were in the unmedicated group because their mothers were diagnosed as having depression-related psychiatric disorders or other psychiatric disorders associated with SSRI use but had no history of purchasing SSRIs during pregnancy.
  • 31,207 were in the unexposed group because they were unexposed prenatally to an SSRI or had mothers without a psychiatric diagnosis.
The average ages of children at diagnosis were 4.4 years old for speech/language disorders, 3.5 years for scholastic disorders and 7.7 years for motor disorders.

The children of mothers who purchased SSRIs at least twice during pregnancy had a 37 percent increased risk of speech/language disorders compared with offspring in the unmedicated group and a 63 percent increased risk compared with children in the unexposed group, according to the results.

In the whole study sample, regardless of the number of SSRI purchases, the risk of speech/language disorders was increased among the children of mothers who used SSRIs during pregnancy as well as the children of mothers diagnosed as having depression or other psychiatric disorders who did not take SSRIs compared with children in the unexposed group who had mothers with no psychiatric diagnoses or SSRI use, the authors report.

For scholastic and motor disorders there were no differences in risk between children in the SSRI-exposed group and the unmedicated group.

Limitations include the study is observational and therefore causality cannot be inferred. The authors also cannot confirm from population registries that the purchased SSRIs were taken. However, the association between maternal SSRI purchase and clinical speech and language disorders was present only among mothers with more than one SSRI purchase during pregnancy, according to the study.

"We found a significant increase in the risk of speech/language disorders among offspring of mothers who purchased SSRIs at least twice during pregnancy compared with mothers diagnosed as having depression or other psychiatric disorders not treated with antidepressants. Further studies are necessary to replicate these findings and to address the possibility of confounding by additional covariates before conclusions regarding the clinical implications of the results can be drawn," the study concludes.
(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online October 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/ jamapsychiatry.2016.2594. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity
Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit the development of 'male behavior' in mice.
The cost of opioid use during pregnancy
A new study published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome -- often caused by mothers using opioids during pregnancy -- is increasing in the United States, and carries an enormous burden in terms of hospital days and costs.
New study: Pre-pregnancy BMI directly linked to excess pregnancy weight gain
It's well known that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have a lasting negative impact on the health of a mother and her baby.
Pregnancy-specific β1-glycoproteins
Development of new strategies and novel drug design to treat trophoblastic diseases and to provide pregnancy success are of crucial importance in maintenance the female reproductive health.
Should hypothyroidism in pregnancy be treated?
When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body.
Pre-pregnancy progesterone helps women with recurrent pregnancy loss
Women who have had two or more unexplained miscarriages can benefit from natural progesterone treatment before pregnancy, a new a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows.
Male pipefish pregnancy, it's complicated
In the upside-down world of the pipefish, sexual selection appears to work in reverse, with flashy females battling for males who bear the pregnancy and carry their young to term in their brood pouch.
Pregnancy leads to changes in the mother's brain
A study directed by researchers from the UAB and IMIM are the first to reveal how pregnancy causes long-lasting alterations in brain structure, probably related to improving the mother's ability to protect and interact with the child.
MRIs during pregnancy and outcomes for infants, children
In an analysis that included more than 1.4 million births, exposure to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the first trimester of pregnancy compared with nonexposure was not associated with increased risk of harm to the fetus or in early childhood, although gadolinium MRI at any time during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of a broad set of rheumatological, inflammatory, or skin conditions and, possibly, for stillbirth or neonatal death, according to a study appearing in the Sept.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not, and show no greater risk of preterm birth.

Related Pregnancy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...