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Psychotropic Medications Linked to Pregnancy Outcomes

Last Updated: December 31, 2009.

In pregnant women, the use of psychotropic medications, especially benzodiazepines, is associated with adverse perinatal outcomes, according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- In pregnant women, the use of psychotropic medications, especially benzodiazepines, is associated with adverse perinatal outcomes, according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ronit Calderon-Margalit, M.D., of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle, and colleagues interviewed 2,793 pregnant women in Washington State and abstracted their medical files.

The researchers found that pregnant women who used benzodiazepines had a dramatically increased risk of preterm delivery (adjusted odds ratio, 6.79), as well as increased risks of low birth weight, low Apgar score, neonatal intensive care unit admission, and respiratory distress syndrome. They also found an association between initiation of selective serotonin receptor inhibitor (SSRI) use after the first trimester and preterm delivery.

"In view of the strong association between benzodiazepine and adverse outcomes of pregnancy and the suggested associations of venlafaxine and SSRI therapy, there is a pressing need to pursue this association with large well-conducted cohort studies to confirm our results," the authors write. "Findings from additional studies are needed to provide data for decision making about treatment during pregnancies and to promote knowledge about the possible mechanisms in which psychotropic drugs affect perinatal outcomes."

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