The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat pregnant women with a psychiatric diagnosis was associated with a lower risk of complications such as preterm birth and delivery by Cesarean section but a higher risk of neonatal maladaptation, according to a study published online ahead of print August 4 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Senior author Alan S. Brown, MD, MPH, and colleagues studied 845,345 single births from the Finnish Medical Birth Register and analyzed data on prescription drug purchases, mothers’ psychiatric and medical history, hospital sources, and health care professionals. When compared with mothers who were not taking medication for their psychiatric diagnosis, women using antidepressants during pregnancy had a risk of preterm birth that was lower by 16% and a risk of very preterm birth that was lower by nearly 50%. Not taking medications for a psychiatric diagnosis was associated with an increased risk of Cesarean section (26.5%) and a slightly greater risk of bleeding during or after delivery (3.5%), compared with those without a diagnosis and who did not purchase antidepressants (17% and 3%, respectively). Furthermore, after delivery, the researchers found a higher risk for neonatal maladaptation, which resulted in longer hospital stays and the need for neonatal care, in the offspring of women who had taken SSRIs during pregnancy.