Antidepressant Studies

Taking Antidepressants, Including Effexor, During Pregnancy May Delay Developmental Milestones

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of Pediatrics, found associations between exposure to antidepressants in late pregnancy and prolonged motor developmental milestones at six and 19 months of age. Effexor was one of the antidepressants that was listed in the study.

The Study

The participants of the study were obtained from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Out of 904 pregnant women who reported depression, 415 used antidepressant medication, including the antidepressant Effexor, and 489 did not. Researchers then compared certain developmental milestones between the children of those women who took the drugs during pregnancy, and those who did not.

The Results

According to researchers, children exposed to antidepressants in the womb took 16 days longer to sit without support and nearly a month longer to walk compared to children who were not prenatally exposed to the medication.According to researchers, children exposed to antidepressants in the womb took 16 days longer to sit without support and nearly a month longer to walk compared to children who were not prenatally exposed to the medication. Although the delay is still within the range of normal development, researchers noted that the data “may suggest that human fetal brain development is susceptible to antidepressant exposure.” Results also show that boys, in particular, are susceptible to this risk.

Researchers also found that fewer children exposed to the antidepressants were able to occupy themselves for 15 minutes at 19 months of age than those whose mothers did not take the drug.

The researchers concluded that “The results of our study suggest an effect of antidepressants exposure on fetal brain development” and added that longer follow-up monitoring of the children is necessary in order to further understand the clinical and public health implications of the results.

Read the BusinessWeek article on the study

Summary Information

Title

Fetal Exposure to Antidepressants and Normal Milestone Development at 6 and 19 Months of Age

Authors

Lars Henning Pedersen, MD, PhD 1,2; Tine Brink Henriksen, MD, PhD 3; Jørn Olsen, MD, PhD 4

  1. Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus Denmark
  3. Department of Pediatrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  4. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Journal

Pediatrics, Vol. 125 No. 3 March 1, 2010, pp. e600 – e608. Published online February 22, 2010

Funding

This work was funded by a grant from the Lundbeck Foundation (grant 95092485, place 2214) and received support from the National Danish Research Foundation, Aarhus University, the Danish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Ville Heise Foundation, and the Rosalie Petersen Foundation. Part of the work was performed during Dr Pedersen’s employment at the Centre for Clinical Pharmacology, University Hospital of Aarhus. The Lundbeck Foundation had no role in the design or conduct of the study; the collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.