Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark analyzed health records of 733,685 Danish children born between 1996 and 2007 to assess the impact of maternal antidepressants use during pregnancy and a possible relationship to asthma in offspring.
The researchers found that among children whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy, the results showed that offspring born to women who took older antidepressants—such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)—had a 26 percent increased risk of developing asthma, compared with those children whose mother took newer generation antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). When incorporating children born to mothers who were not depressed during pregnancy, the researchers found that maternal depression—treated or untreated—was associated with a 25 percent increased risk of childhood asthma in offspring.
Nada Stotland, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Rush University and an expert in OB-GYN psychiatry, praised the study for addressing such a topic. She told Psychiatric News that investigating the impact of maternal use of antidepressants on offspring is “important because so many women are depressed during pregnancy and worry about the impact of antidepressants. … It is probably best to stay away from older antidepressants—unless they are the only medications that have worked for a particular patient.” Stotland, a former APA president, added that, if possible, it is important for expecting mothers who are in need of mental health treatment to use psychotherapies and insist that insurers cover such services.
To read more about how prenatal exposure to psychotropic medicines may impact the health outcome of offspring, see Psychiatric News article, "Lithium Use in Pregnancy May Contribute to Birth Defects, Miscarriages," and "Certain Cardiac Abnormalities Not Linked to Prenatal Antidepressant Use, Study Finds.