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The Reproductive Safety Profile of Mood Stabilizers, Atypical Antipsychotics, and Broad-Spectrum Psychotropics

Carrie L. Ernst, MD, and Joseph F. Goldberg, MD

Published: April 1, 2002

Article Abstract

There has been growing concern about the potential iatrogenic effects of several newer psychotropic drugson reproductive health safety in women. Areas of particular concern in this regard include (1) controversiesabout a potential association between the use of valproate and development of polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS), (2) the safety of use of newer psychotropic medications during pregnancy, and (3) safety issues withthese medications in women while breastfeeding. This review summarizes current information about each ofthese areas. In particular, existing data suggest that (1) PCOS very likely represents a complex neuroendocrinedisorder with multiple determinants; (2) menstrual irregularities may be a frequently seen phenomenon inwomen with bipolar illness, at least partially independent of psychotropic drug therapy; (3) potential centralnervous system teratogenicity remains substantial during first-trimester exposure to valproate or carbamazepine;(4) with newer agents used for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, safety data during pregnancy, whilenot definitive, are most abundant with olanzapine and with lamotrigine; relatively less is known about systematicpregnancy outcomes with other atypical antipsychotics or newer anticonvulsants; and (5) risks for neonatalsafety during lactation continue to appear substantial with lithium, are of potential concern with lamotrigineand clozapine, are quite likely minimal with valproate or carbamazepine, and are indeterminate with mostother new anticonvulsants or atypical antipsychotics. Recommendations are presented for clinical managementin each of these instances.

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