Risk of Congenital Heart Disease in Newborns with Prenatal Exposure to Anti-depressant Medications

  • Desai P
  • Yagnik P
  • Ross Ascuitto N
  • et al.
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Introduction It is uncertain whether the use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and other anti-depressants during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of congenital heart disease (CHD) in newborn. There have been various studies showing a number of adverse outcomes, including gestational hypertension, reduced birth weight, altered neonatal pain responses and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn with exposure to anti-depressant medications. There have been very few longitudinal studies showing CHD association with the use of anti-depressant medications. Our objective is to examine the risk for congenital heart disease of the newborn associated with prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication. Methods We reviewed charts of mothers who were referred for a fetal echocardiogram between January 1st, 2009 and December 31st, 2014. We identified mothers who were exposed to antidepressant medications prenatally. Fetal echocardiograms for these patients were reviewed by two fetal cardiologists and each was blinded to the others' findings. Results A total of 40 patients were identified with prenatal exposure to SSRI. Seven (18%) out of these 40 were found to have a form of CHD. Two fetuses whose mothers were exposed to fluoxetine during pregnancy had large posteriorly malaligned ventricular septal defect, sub-aortic stenosis and critical coarctation identified on fetal echocardiogram. Exposure to citalopram during pregnancy was found to be associated with a moderate size secundum atrial septal defect on one patient and a moderate size mid muscular ventricular septal defect seen on fetal echocardiogram in another patient. Exposure to venlafaxine during pregnancy showed two small muscular ventricular septal defects on fetal echocardiogram on one patient and ductal constriction with increased ductal velocity on another patient. One of the women on escitalopram had a fetus with a large membranous ventricular septal defect (VSD), secundum atrial septal defect (ASD) and left superior vena cava. None of the women on a combination of drugs had CHD. Conclusion There is a risk of congenital heart disease in patients who are prenatally exposed to anti-depressant medications as evident by the specific echocardiographic abnormalities noted in the study.




Desai, P. H., Yagnik, P. J., Ross Ascuitto, N., Prajapati, P., & Sernich, S. (2019). Risk of Congenital Heart Disease in Newborns with Prenatal Exposure to Anti-depressant Medications. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4673

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