Peer Reviewed


Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Is Linked to Affective Disorders in Offspring

Maternal use of antidepressants is associated a greater risk of affective disorders in offspring, but no causal link was identified, according to the authors of a recent study.

In order to investigate this relationship, the researchers conducted an analysis of data from 42,988 singleton births from 1998-2011 from Danish national registers. Follow-up continued until 2016, death, emigration, or first affective disorder diagnosis.

Children were divided into two groups: those whose mothers used antidepressants before and during pregnancy and those who used them before but discontinued use during pregnancy. The effect of paternal antidepressant use was also investigated.

Overall, 1538 children had diagnoses of affective disorders during follow-up. In children with mothers who continued antidepressant use during pregnancy, the hazard ratio (HR) for affective disorders was 1.20, 95% CI – 1.08-1.34, compared with children whose mothers discontinued treatment during pregnancy. However, continued paternal antidepressant use during pregnancy was also associated with increased risk of affective disorder among offspring (HR = 1.29, 95% CI – 1.12-1.49), compared with discontinuation.

“Based on data from primary and secondary/tertiary care, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of affective disorders in the offspring. As similar associations were observed in children whose fathers continued antidepressant use across the pregnancy period, the observed association may be attributable to the underlying parental psychopathology, rather than the direct intrauterine exposure to antidepressants,” the authors concluded.

—Michael Potts


Rommel A, Momen NC, Molenaar NM, et al. Long-term prenatal effects of antidepressant use on the risk of affective disorders in the offspring: a register-based cohort study. Published online April 5, 2021. Neuropsychopharmacol.