Is Antidepressant Use Linked to Changes in Infants’ Brains?

Healthy Fam

A recent study by UNC-Chapel Hill researchers found that children of depressed mothers treated with a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy were more likely to develop Chiari type 1 malformations of the brain than were children of mothers with no exposure to SSRIs. A Chiari type 1 malformation is a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. It occurs when part of the skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on the brain and forcing it downward.

The researchers cautioned, however, that doctors treating pregnant women for depression should not change their prescribing practices based on the study results, published in the May 2014 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology.

“Additional research into the effects of depression during pregnancy, with and without antidepressant treatment, is urgently needed,” says Rebecca Knickmeyer, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

For more information, go to nature.com/npp/journal/vaop/naam/pdf/npp2014114a.pdf.

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