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Risk to Infant From SSRI Use in Late Pregnancy Deemed Small

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of newborn risk similar to women with untreated depression

TUESDAY, June 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Infants born to mothers taking antidepressants in late pregnancy may be slightly more likely to develop persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a new study suggests, but the risk is very small. The findings were published in the June 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Krista Huybrechts, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues followed 3,789,330 million women enrolled in Medicaid from just before their pregnancy through one month postpartum. Among these women, 3.4 percent filled at least one prescription for antidepressants during their third trimester (2.7 percent a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor [SSRI] and 0.7 percent a non-SSRI).

Overall, the rate of infants born with PPHN was 20.8 infants per 10,000 births among women who did not take antidepressants. Among those who took SSRIs, the rate of the condition was 31.5 infants per 10,000 births. The rate was slightly lower, 29.1 children per 10,000 births, for women taking antidepressants other than SSRIs. When the researchers compared women with untreated depression to those taking antidepressants, the risk of PPHN didn't differ much between women taking antidepressants and those not taking them.

"Although we cannot exclude the possibility that there might be an increased risk of PPHN associated with SSRI use late in pregnancy, our study has shown that the absolute risk is small," Huybrechts told HealthDay. "The risk increase, if present, appears much more modest than previous studies have suggested."

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