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Antidepressants in Pregnancy May Impact Child Behavior

Last Updated: May 03, 2010.

Antidepressant use during pregnancy and twin birth weight differences may affect later behavior in children, while nicotine use during pregnancy may lead to sleep disturbances in children, according to three studies published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Antidepressant use during pregnancy and twin birth weight differences may affect later behavior in children, while nicotine use during pregnancy may lead to sleep disturbances in children, according to three studies published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In one study, Tim F. Oberlander, M.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues found that child behavior at 3 years of age was impacted by prenatal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant exposure and maternal mood, demonstrated by an increased level of internalizing behaviors among exposed children. However, they found that the child SLC6A4 genotype moderated the effects of antenatal maternal anxiety on children's moods.

In another study, researchers evaluated the behavioral effects of birth weight differences in weight-discordant twins and demonstrated that the higher-birth-weight twin was more likely to have conduct problems at age 3 or 4 than the lower-birth-weight twin. A third study found a potential link between prenatal nicotine exposure and sleep problems in children for the first 12 years of life.

"It is critically important to realize that many psychosocial characteristics of smoking women may account for the measured differences in their children. Until such time when we identify all major confounders and adjust for them, it will be premature to conclude that sleep disturbances in the offspring are caused by intrauterine exposure to constituents of cigarette smoke," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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