Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Antidepressants during Pregnancy Linked to ADHD in Kids


Exposure to antidepressants in the womb may be linked to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in the child, but the risks of depressed mothers stopping their medication may be greater.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

“Current psychiatric advice is generally that the risk of ‘depression’ during pregnancy outweighs the risk of foetal exposure to antidepressant medication. These data challenge this assertion and suggest that great caution needs to be exercised in prescribing antidepressants to women who are pregnant or planning to be pregnant because of risks to foetal neurodevelopment.

“Most prior studies have investigated pregnancy outcomes like prematurity and stillbirth. This study represents a considerable advance on previous investigations in using linked electronic health record data from a large population enabling highly specific comparisons to be made between exposed and unexposed groups through each stage of pregnancy and development of children aged 2–19 years. It concluded that there is a near double rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among children whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy compared to those who did not.

“Most pregnancy depression is of mild to moderate severity, and mood is known to fluctuate. Evidence-based non-pharmacological approaches, in particular cognitive behavioural therapy to assist management of maladaptive thinking styles, and training in active problem solving are effective. There is Medicare provision for pregnancy mental health care of this kind, but it is under-used. These data indicate that non-...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Source: Clements et al., Molecular Psychiatry,