OBJECTIVE: To examine the developmental outcomes in children exposed to antidepressants in utero and compare those to children not exposed to these medications
METHOD: A prospective case-controlled study of children exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy assessed 22 exposed and 19 not exposed children using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, third edition. The control group was measured at a mean age of 23.09 (SD 3.82) months and the medicated group at 28.53 months (SD 6.22). Maternal variables were assessed using a purpose-designed questionnaire and the Beck Depression Inventory (II) in pregnancy and at three assessments in the postpartum.
RESULTS: Children exposed to antidepressant medication in pregnancy scored lower on motor subscales in particular on fine motor scores than non-exposed children with a moderate effect size of Cohen's d = 0.47 fine motor and Cohen's d = 0.43 for gross motor. Due to lack of power these findings did not reach conventional criteria for statistical significance. There was no association found between maternal depression and neurodevelopment.
CONCLUSIONS: This finding of a possible effect from antidepressant exposure in pregnancy on children's motor development is similar to the findings from a previous study. Future research is needed which assesses children at an older age using specific assessments of motor development.