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Maternal Serotonergic Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy and Risk of Seizures in Children

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 inhibitor (SSRI) and selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) in pregnancy and diagnosis of neonatal seizures and/or epilepsy in over 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 and anxiety) and parental epilepsy, we adjusted for remaining parental background factors (e.g., age, co-morbidities, 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 that reported use of SSRI/SNRI in pregnancy had an elevated risk of neonatal seizures and epilepsy (risk ratio [RR]=1.41, 95% confidence interval [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=0.94-1.79; 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). The present study found no support for the concern that maternal SSRI/SNRI use in pregnancy increases children’s risk for neonatal seizures or epilepsy. This study provides Class II evidence that exposure to SSRI/SNRI’s in the first trimester of pregnancy is not associated with an increased incidence of neo-natal seizures/epilepsy.

Authors: Wiggs, Kelsey Kathleen; Sujan, Ayehsa C; Rickert, Martin E; Quinn, Patrick D; Larsson, Henrik; Lichtenstein, Paul; D'Onofrio, Brian M; Oberg, A Sara

Neurology. 2022 May 11.

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