Expectant mothers on antidepressants risk newborns with high blood pressure

January 13, 2012

Mothers who take anti-depressants during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with persistent pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) finds a study published today on bmj.com.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension is an increase in blood pressure in the lungs leading to shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It is a rare, but severe disease with strong links to .

The study, carried out by researchers at the Centre for Pharmacoepidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm Sweden, reviewed 1.6 million births in total between 1996 and 2007 in five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The babies were assessed after 231 days (33 weeks).

A total of 1,618,255 singleton births were included in the study. Approximately 11,000 of the mothers filled out a prescription for anti-depressants in late pregnancy and approximately 17,000 in . Those who did fill out a prescription were generally who also smoked. A further 54,184 mothers were identified as having previously undergone psychiatric diagnosis but were not currently taking any medication.

Factors taken into account during the study included persistent pulmonary hypertension, maternal smoking, BMI (in early pregnancy), year of birth, gestational age at birth, and maternal diseases including epilepsy, malignancies, arthritis, bowel disease, lupus and pre-eclampsia.

The uses of several drugs were analysed which included fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram, paroxetine, , fluvoxamine and escitalopram. Although, research found that fluvoxamine had rarely been used and that none of the children with persistent pulmonary hypertension were exposed to this drug.

The results found that out of 11,014 mothers who used anti-depressants in late pregnancy just 33 babies (0.2%) were born with persistent pulmonary hypertension and out of 17,053 mothers who used anti-depressant drugs in early pregnancy, just 32 babies (less than 0.2%) were diagnosed with persistent pulmonary hypertension. A total of 114 babies whose mothers had previously been diagnosed with a mental illness were found to be suffering from the disease.

For mothers using anti-depressants, factors such as being born small for , or by C-section did not influence the likelihood of having a child with persistent pulmonary hypertension.

While the authors acknowledge that the risk of developing pulmonary persistent hypertension is low (around three cases per 1000 women which more than doubles if anti-depressants are taken in late pregnancy) they still advise caution when treating pregnant women with SSRIs.

In an accompanying editorial, researchers from the Motherisk Program Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo support the view that mothers who take SSRIs in are more likely to give birth to children with persistent pulmonary hypertension.

Explore further: High blood pressure in early pregnancy raises risk of birth defects, irrespective of medication

More information: BMJ 2011;344:d8012 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d8012

Related Stories

High blood pressure in early pregnancy raises risk of birth defects, irrespective of medication

October 18, 2011
Women with high blood pressure (hypertension) in the early stages of pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects, irrespective of commonly prescribed medicines for their condition, finds new research published ...

Giving up smoking averts the adverse birth outcomes associated with tobacco

July 6, 2011
Scientists have shown for the first time in a large population study that mothers' stopping smoking around the time of getting pregnant can prevent the harmful effects of tobacco on their babies' growth.

Link between influenza vaccination in pregnancy and reduced risk of premature birth

June 1, 2011
A study published in this week's PLoS Medicine suggests that there might be an association between maternal immunization with inactivated influenza vaccine during pregnancy and reduced likelihood of prematurity and the baby ...

Recommended for you

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.