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Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or Maternal Major Depressive Disorder on Infant Developmental Outcomes

J Clin Psychiatry 2014;75(10):1088–1095

Objective: To examine the impact of prenatal exposure to both serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs; during any trimester) and maternal major depressive disorder (MDD; by DSM-IV criteria) on infant functioning. We hypothesized that infants with prenatal exposure to SRIs or MDD would have lower psychomotor, mental, and behavioral scores compared with nonexposed infants.

Method: This longitudinal study included 166 mother-infant dyads: 68 with prenatal MDD/SRI (n = 41) or MDD/no SRI exposure (n = 27) and 98 nonexposed controls. Maternal depression and SRI exposure assessments were completed at or as near to 20, 30, and 36 prenatal weeks and 12, 26, 52, and 78 weeks postpartum as feasible. Infants were evaluated with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition, including the psychomotor (Psychomotor Development Index; PDI), cognitive (Mental Development Index; MDI), and behavioral (Behavioral Rating Scale; BRS) components. Study assessments occurred between 2003 and 2009.

Results: Neither prenatal exposure to MDD/SRI nor MDD/no SRI significantly impacted overall PDI, MDI, or BRS scores. However, we observed a significant SRI exposure by time interaction for the PDI (P = .038). MDD/SRI exposure was associated with lower PDI scores at 26 (mean = 97.0) and 52 weeks (mean = 92.9) compared with nonexposed infants (mean = 101.4 and 100.5). This difference was no longer significant at the 78-week assessment.

Conclusions: Consistent with previous studies, we found no impact of prenatal MDD/SRI exposure on MDI scores. Less favorable PDI scores were observed in the first year; notably, these scores remained well within the normative range. The effects of prenatal MDD/SRI exposure on motor functioning may be transitory. A longitudinal pattern of poor developmental outcomes has not been established.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00279370