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Some studies report neurobehavioral symptoms in neonates exposed to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) in utero. However, maternal psychiatric illness during the last trimester of pregnancy, as a confounding factor, has not always been assessed. In this prospective study we compared neurobehavioral complications among neonates who were born to euthymic women who either took or did not take an SRI during the last trimester of pregnancy. Exposed and unexposed infants were assessed for: 1) temperament as measured by the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS); 2) activity via Actiwatch electronic monitoring; 3) sleep state using trained observer ratings; and 4) perinatal complications through medical record review. T-tests, Fisher's exact tests, and analyses of covariance were used to assess the relationship between clinical and neurobehavioral factors and exposure status. 67 infants (61 controls and 6 exposed to SRIs). Neonatal Assessment Behavioral Scale, APGAR scores, infant sleep state (% sleep, % wakeful), startles and tremulousness, gestational age, birth weight, and head circumference. Infants exposed to SRIs in the third trimester had poorer motor development, lower 5-minute APGAR scores, and shorter mean gestational age as compared to unexposed infants. Results of this study show differences in autonomic and gross motor activity between neonates who were or were not exposed to SRIs in utero after controlling for active maternal psychiatric illness. Future longitudinal work should compare longer term outcomes of exposed and unexposed infants of depressed mothers. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Megan V Smith, Anita Sung, Bhavesh Shah, Linda Mayes, Deborah S Klein, Kimberly A Yonkers. Neurobehavioral assessment of infants born at term and in utero exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Early human development. 2013 Feb;89(2):81-6

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PMID: 22999988

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