No link between antipsychotic use and birth defects

There is no association between antipsychotic use in the first trimester and congenital malformations, study finds.

Ultrasound screen showing a baby

Despite the increasing use of antipsychotics during pregnancy, there is little information about the safety of these drugs for the developing foetus. 

To examine the impact of first trimester antipsychotic use on congenital malformations, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, studied insurance data on 1.4 million pregnant women between 2000 and 2010. 

There was no association between either congenital malformations overall or cardiac malformations specifically with either typical or atypical antipsychotic use in early pregnancy, the team reports in JAMA Psychiatry (online, 17 August 2016)[1]
. However, there was a slight increased risk of both types of malformation with first-trimester risperidone use, which requires further investigation. 

The researchers conclude that, for women with specific mental health disorders for whom antipsychotic use may be unavoidable during pregnancy, the risk of congenital malformations should not be a major concern.


 [1] Huybrechts KF, Hernández-Díaz S, Patorno E et al. Antipsychotic use in pregnancy and the risk for congenital malformations. JAMA Psychiatry 2016. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1520

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, September 2016, Vol 8, No 9;8(9):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201631

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