Exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy increases offspring’s risk of speech disorders

Study results show that children born to mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy were more than a third more likely to have speech/language disorders.

Pregnant woman holds a blister pack of pills

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can cross the placenta into the foetal bloodstream but few studies have examined whether exposure during pregnancy can affect a child’s language development and scholastic and motor abilities.

To find out, researchers looked at data from 845,345 pregnant women to determine whether or not they had a psychiatric diagnosis during their pregnancy and whether they used SSRIs. They tracked diagnoses of speech, language, scholastic or motor disorders in the women’s children from birth to the age of 14 years.

Children whose mothers were supplied with SSRIs at least twice during their pregnancy had a 37% increased risk of speech/language disorders compared with children born to mothers who were unmedicated.

Reporting their findings in JAMA Psychiatry
(online, 12 October 2016), the researchers conclude that exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy increases the risk of speech/language disorders in children.


[1] Brown A S, Gyllenberg D, Malm H et al. Association of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor exposure during pregnancy with speech, scholastic, and motor disorders in offspring. JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2594

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, January 2017, Vol 9, No 1;9(1):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20202001

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