Newborn pulmonary hypertension data provide reassurance to pregnant women taking SSRIs

Risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in offspring of women taking SSRI antidepressants more modest than suggested in previous studies. In the image, a newborn child

In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration warned about an association between maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in pregnancy and the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN). The warning was based on a single epidemiological study that found a sixfold increased risk, yet subsequent studies have found no association or a much more modest risk increase.

A study involving 3.7 million pregnant women, published in JAMA
on 2 June 2015, showed that the risk of PPHN was modestly increased with maternal use of SSRI or non-SSRI antidepressants; however, the strength of associations fell with adjustment for confounders. “The absolute risk was small, and the risk increase appears more modest than suggested in previous studies,” the authors conclude. 


[1] Huybrechts KF, Bateman BT, Palmsten K et al. Antidepressant use late in pregnancy and risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. JAMA 2015;313(21):2142-2151. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.5605.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 20 June 2015, Vol 294, No 7867;294(7867):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068697

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