Maternal Use of SSRIs May Be Related to Speech and Language Disorders in Offspring Interview with:

Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H. Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center Director, Program in Birth Cohort Studies, Division of Epidemiology New York State Psychiatric Institute

Dr. Alan Brown

Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology
Columbia University Medical Center
Director, Program in Birth Cohort Studies, Division of Epidemiology
New York State Psychiatric Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy has been increasing.  A previous study from a team that I led in a national birth cohort in Finland showed that mother’s use of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant is related to an increased risk of depression in offspring.  We sought to evaluate whether these medications also increased risk of speech/language, scholastic, and motor outcomes in offspring.  We found an increased risk (37% higher risk) of speech/language disorders in offspring of mothers exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy compared to mothers who were depressed during pregnancy but did not take an SSRI during pregnancy. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy may be related to speech and language abnormalities in offspring.  However, it is important to weigh the potential risks and benefits by discussion between the patient and her physician because stopping or reducing the dosage of an antidepressant can lead to a recurrence of depression. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We wish to attempt to replicate these findings in a larger sample and expect that other groups with this type of information should do the same.  In addition, the effect of dose and type of antidepressant should be evaluated. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This is the first evidence that maternal use of SSRIs is related to speech and language disorders in offspring. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Brown AS, Gyllenberg D, Malm H, McKeague IW, Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki S, Artama M, Gissler M, Cheslack-Postava K, Weissman MM, Gingrich JA, Sourander A. Association of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Exposure During Pregnancy With Speech, Scholastic, and Motor Disorders in Offspring. JAMA Psychiatry.Published online October 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2594

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD