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Psychotropic Drug Use During Pregnancy: Weighing the Risks

Lee S. Cohen, M.D., and Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, M.D.

Published: April 1, 1998

Article Abstract

Although psychotropic drugs have not been tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administrationfor use during pregnancy, some women continue to take these medications while they are pregnant,particularly since mood and anxiety disorders cluster in women during childbearing years. The relativerisks and benefits of drug therapy for these women must be weighed with each patient and treatmentlimited to those situations in which risks to mother and fetus from the disorder are presumed to exceedthe risk of drug treatment. Risks of psychotropic drug use during pregnancy include teratogenic effects,direct neonatal toxicity, and the potential for longer term neurobehavioral sequelae. Of growing concernis the risk of untreated psychiatric disorder as it may potentially affect fetoplacental integrity andfetal central nervous system development. Coordination of care with the patient, her husband or partner,and the obstetrician is essential, as is careful medical record documentation when treating pregnantpatients with psychiatric disorders.

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Volume: 59

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