Infants whose mothers took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in late pregnancy may be at increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (
BMJ online, 14 January 2014).
A meta-analysis of seven studies, carried out by Canadian researchers, showed an increased risk (odds ratio 2.50, 95 per cent confidence interval 1.32–4.73; P=0.005). However, although the results are statistically significant, the researchers say that the low incidence of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn in the general population (around two cases/1,000 live births) means that the absolute risk as a result of SSRI exposure remains low. They estimate that 286 to 351 women would need to be treated with an SSRI in late pregnancy for one additional case to be seen.
Data were not available for assessing the contribution of other risk factors, which include premature birth, maternal obesity and caesarian section. There was no increased risk associated with maternal use of SSRIs in early pregnancy.
The researchers had planned to look at all antidepressants but there was a lack of data on drug classes other than SSRIs.