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Antidepressant exposure in utero may increase risk for anxiety in children

April 20, 2015

Maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy was associated with increased anxiety in offspring, according to study findings in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“During their childbearing years up to 20% of women experience depression or other mood disorders. An increasing number of pregnant women are prescribed antidepressants which cross the human placenta and the blood-brain barrier,” study researcher Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen, PhD, of the University of Oslo, Norway and colleagues wrote. “When used in pregnancy, antidepressants alter the central serotonin signaling of the fetus during early brain growth and may contribute to developmental risk. However, untreated maternal depression also alters neonatal serotonin levels.”

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