Background and Objectives
To evaluate whether children born to women who use serotonergic antidepressants during pregnancy have higher risk of neonatal seizures and epilepsy.
We used Swedish register-based data to examine associations between maternal reported use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) in pregnancy and diagnosis of neonatal seizures or epilepsy in >1.2 million children. To account for systematic differences between exposed and unexposed children, we adjusted for a wide range of measured confounders. After first evaluating the role of maternal indication for SSRI/SNRI use (i.e., depression or anxiety) and parental epilepsy, we adjusted for remaining parental background factors (e.g., age, comorbidities, education, and family socioeconomic indices) and pregnancy-specific characteristics (e.g., maternal use of other psychotropic medications and tobacco smoking in early pregnancy).
Compared with all other children, children of women who reported use of SSRI/SNRI in pregnancy had an elevated risk of neonatal seizures and epilepsy (risk ratio [RR] 1.41, 95% CI 1.03–1.94; hazard ratio [HR] 1.21, 95% CI 1.03–1.43, respectively). The estimates of association were attenuated by adjustment for maternal indications for SSRI/SNRI use (RR 1.30, 95% CI 0.94–1.80; HR 1.13, 95% CI 0.95–1.33), but not by additional adjustment for parental history of epilepsy. Full adjustment for all measured parental and pregnancy-specific factors resulted in substantial attenuation of the remaining associations (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.79–1.53; HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.81–1.14).
We found no support for the concern that maternal SSRI/SNRI use in pregnancy increases children’s risk for neonatal seizures or epilepsy.
Classification of Evidence
This study provides Class II evidence that exposure to SSRIs/SNRIs in the first trimester of pregnancy is not associated with an increased incidence of neonatal seizures/epilepsy.