Antidepressants May Raise Blood Pressure In Infants' Lungs

First Posted: 01/13/12 06:46 AM ET Updated: 01/17/12 06:48 PM ET

Pregnant women who take antidepressants may slightly raise their offspring’s risk of developing high blood pressure in the lungs, new research suggests.


Even if antidepressants are to blame, however, the risk is very small. In the study, of 11,014 mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) late in their pregnancy, only 33 babies were born with persistent pulmonary hypertension. Of the 17,053 mothers who took it in early pregnancy, only 32 were born with the condition.


Women who had been treated for psychiatric conditions in a hospital in the past also had a higher rate of infants with persistent pulmonary hypertension, the study says.


”We recommend caution when treating pregnant women with SSRIs,” write the authors.


The study was published Thursday in the British Medical Journal.


In an accompanying editorial, researchers at the Motherisk program at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and the University of Oslo caution that the SSRIs may not be responsible for the development of persistent pulmonary hypertension, given that other studies have shown that pregnant women who are prescribed antidepressants often do not take them.


They also point out that the study found that women with previous psychiatric issues also delivered babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension though they did not take SSRIs during their pregnancies. They believe more studies are needed before SSRIs can be definitely linked to the development of the condition in infants.


Persistent pulmonary hypertension is an increase of blood pressure in the lungs that can cause difficulty breathing and has been linked to heart failure. The study,conducted by Swedish researchers, tracked 1.6 million births between 1996 and 2007 in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.


The drugs analyzed in the study were:


- Fluoxetine.


- Fluvoxamine.


- Citalopram.


- Paroxetine.


- Sertraline.


- Escitalopram.


Factors considered in the study were maternal smoking, the body mass index (BMI) in early pregnancy, year of birth, gestational age at birth, birth weight and maternal diseases such as epilepsy, malignancies, arthritis, bowel disease, lupus and pre-eclampsia.


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