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A Prospective, Naturalistic, Blinded Study of Early Neurobehavioral Outcomes for Infants Following Prenatal Antidepressant Exposure

Rita Suri, MD; Gerhard Hellemann, PhD; Zachary N. Stowe, MD; Lee S. Cohen, MD; Ana Aquino, BS; and Lori L. Altshuler, MD

Published: May 17, 2011

Article Abstract

Objective: This study examined the potential effects of antidepressant exposure in pregnancy on early infant neurobehavioral outcomes.

Method: In this prospective, naturalistic study, neurobehavioral assessments using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (BNBAS) were completed by blinded raters between March 2001 and August 2005 on 64 infants who were born to mothers in 1 of 3 categories: (1) women with a history of DSM-IV-diagnosed major depressive disorder (MDD) who were treated with antidepressants during pregnancy, (2) women with a history of DSM-IV-diagnosed MDD who discontinued or chose not to be treated with antidepressants during pregnancy, and (3) a nonpsychiatric control group. Summary scores for the BNBAS were obtained within the first week of life and at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Results: No significant differences were observed between groups at either the first week after delivery or at 6 to 8 weeks of age on any of the summary scores for the 7 major clusters of the BNBAS.

Conclusions: Antidepressant exposure during pregnancy does not appear to have major adverse effects on indices of early infant neurobehavioral development during the first 2 months of life as assessed by the BNBAS. While this finding is encouraging, further studies with larger samples and longer follow-up are needed.

J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(7):1002-1007

Submitted: March 24, 2010; accepted October 18, 2010.

Online ahead of print: May 17, 2011 (doi:10.4088/JCP.10m06135).

Corresponding author: Rita Suri, MD, UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program, 300 Medical Plaza, Ste 1544, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (

Volume: 72

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