OBJECTIVE: To examine child developmental outcomes in preschool-aged children exposed to antidepressant medication in pregnancy and compare their outcomes to children not exposed.
METHOD: A prospective case-controlled study of 20 children exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy and 21 unexposed controls was available from the Victorian Psychotropic Registry. Child development outcomes at 4 years of age were assessed using the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, third edition; the Movement Assessment Battery for Children; Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning-Preschool; and the Child Behavior Checklist (1.5-5 years). Maternal depression was assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory-II in pregnancy and at four time points across infancy and early childhood.
RESULTS: Children exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy had no statistically significant differences compared to unexposed children on any of the measures of child development undertaken. There was a trend to slightly lower scores in motor development with a small effect size for two scales of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children: balance - Cohen's d=0.36; aiming and catching - Cohen's d=0.34.
CONCLUSIONS: The finding of no effect on cognition and behaviour are consistent with other previous studies conducted with younger children. Likewise, the trend towards lower motor development is similar to earlier findings from this study and a number of other similar studies. Given this trend there is a need for future research that focuses on this area of development in older children using robust measures of motor development.