A new study in JAMA has reinforced earlier warnings that taking SSRI antidepressants late in pregnancy appears to put mothers at a slightly increased risk of having newborns with persistent pulmonary hypertension. PPHN is a potentially life-threatening condition.
“Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the medical records of nearly 4 million women enrolled in Medicaid — over 128,000 of whom were taking an antidepressant during the 90 days before delivery,” reported Psychiatric News. “Overall, 7,630 infants not exposed to antidepressants were diagnosed with PPHN (20.8 per 10,000 births) compared with 322 infants exposed to SSRIs (31.5 per 10,000 births) and 78 infants exposed to other antidepressants (29.1 per 10,000 births).”
“After adjusting for other potential risk factors, the use of SSRIs resulted in a 28 percent increased risk for PPHN among full-term births,” reported Psychiatric News.
“Evidence from this large study of publicly insured pregnant women may be consistent with a potential increased risk of PPHN associated with maternal use of SSRIs in late pregnancy,” stated the reseachers. They added that “the absolute risk was small.”
According to persistent-pulmonary-hypertension-newborn.com, “Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) occurs when a newborn’s circulation system does not adapt to breathing outside the womb.”
“PPHN is a life-threatening condition,” reported Medical News Today. “It is estimated that around 10-20% of infants born with the condition do not survive, while many of those who do survive suffer severe lifelong illnesses, such as chronic lung disease and neurodevelopmental disorders.”
PPHN was the only risk evaluated in the study; other studies have linked SSRI antidepressants to increases in other types of risks for newborns.
Huybrechts KF, Bateman BT, Palmsten K, et al. Antidepressant Use Late in Pregnancy and Risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. JAMA. 2015;313(21):2142-2151. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.5605. (Abstract)
Study Finds SSRI Use in Late Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Newborn Respiratory Disease (Psychiatric News Alert, June 3, 2015)
Maternal antidepressant use may raise risk of newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension (Medical News Today, June 3, 2015)