No Increased Risk of ASD, ADHD, or SGA with First-Trimester Antidepressant Use


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Aug 15;96(4):261-262.

Clinical Question

Does maternal exposure to an antidepressant in the first trimester of pregnancy increase the risk of preterm birth, small for gestational age (SGA), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring?

Bottom Line

This study found that maternal antidepressant use during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, but not SGA, ASD, or ADHD. Another study in the same issue (Brown HK, et al. JAMA. 2017;317(15):1544–1552) also reported no increased risk of ASD with in utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. (Level of Evidence = 2b –)


These investigators analyzed data obtained from multiple registries in Sweden that link first-trimester exposure to any antidepressant medication with the risk of preterm birth, SGA, ASD, or ADHD in offspring. Various registries also provided information related to potential confounding variables, including parity, year of birth, maternal and paternal age at childbirth, level of completed education, history of criminal conviction, and history of severe psychiatric illnesses. Maternal exposure was defined by self-report and pharmacy dispensation records. “First-trimester exposure” was defined as having at least one medication dispensation between 90 days before and 90 days after the estimated date of conception. “Use before pregnancy only” was defined as having at least one medication dispensation between 270 days and 90 days before estimated conception and no dispensations during pregnancy or during the first 180 days after pregnancy. Birth outcomes were assessed using standard international diagnostic criteria. To account for shared genetic and early environmental influences, a sibling comparison model evaluated anti-depressant exposure and outcomes within families with siblings born to the same mother.

The final cohort of eligible offspring (N = 1,580,629)

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by EssentialEvidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, please see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Associate Deputy Editor.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.



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