Does fetal exposure to SSRIs or maternal depression impact infant growth?

Katherine L. Wisner*, Debra L. Bogen, Dorothy Sit, Mary McShea, Carolyn Hughes, David Rizzo, Andrea Confer, James Luther, Heather Eng, Stephen W. Wisniewski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the growth of infants born to women with antenatal major depressive disorder, either untreated or treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, and infants born to a nondepressed, nonmedicated comparison group across the first year of life. Method: In this prospective observational study, pregnant women were evaluated at weeks 20, 30, and 36 of gestation, and mother and infant pairs were assessed at 2, 12, 26, and 52 weeks postpartum. Three nonoverlapping groups of women were defined according to their pregnancy exposures: 1) no SSRI and no depression (N=97), 2) SSRI (N=46), and 3) major depression without SSRI (N=31). Maternal demographic and clinical characteristics and newborn outcomes were compared across exposure groups. Infant weight, length, and head circumference were measured by a physician or physician's assistant who was blind to depression and SSRI exposure status at each postpartum time point. Results: Both adjusted and unadjusted analyses revealed neither antenatal major depression nor SSRI exposure was significantly associated with infant weight, length, or head circumference relative to nonexposure to either. In addition, the interaction of group and prepregnancy body mass index was also evaluated, and no significant synergistic effect was identified. Similarly, no differential effect of group over time was observed for weight, length, or head circumference. Conclusions: In utero exposure to major depression or SSRI antidepressants did not affect infant growth with respect to weight, length, or head circumference from birth through 12 months of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-493
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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