SSRI Antidepressants More than Double the Risk of Lung Complication in Newborns
In this meta-analysis, researchers pooled data from seven previous studies that had investigated the relationship between maternal use of SSRI antidepressants and a serious condition in newborn babies known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Each of the studies chosen by the investigators was selected for the high quality of its study design. The study was published online on January 14, 2014 in the British Medical Journal.
The time of exposure to SSRIs was divided into four categories: exposure in early pregnancy; at any time in pregnancy; during most or all of the pregnancy; and during late pregnancy. Studies varied in their definitions of early and late pregnancy, but early pregnancy generally meant from ninety days before pregnancy up to fifty-five days into the pregnancy, or before week twenty. Late pregnancy meant during or after week twenty, or during the third trimester.
The investigators reported an increased risk for newborns exposed to SSRIs late in pregnancy that was two and a half times greater than non-exposed babies. However, after adjusting their results for potential publication bias (the selective publishing of only studies with positive results) the authors estimated that late exposure to SSRIs increased the risk of PPHN 2.84 times, nearly triple the risk of babies not exposed. The risk for babies who were exposed “most or all of pregnancy” was estimated to be even higher: 3.3 times the risk.