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Prenatal exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a case report

Maria Marsella*, Elisabetta Ubaldini, Agostina Solinas and Pietro Guerrini

Author Affiliations

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics, University of Ferrara, Italy

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Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2010, 36:27  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-36-27

Published: 19 March 2010


Two premature twins (33 weeks gestation) were born to a woman who had used paroxetine during pregnancy for an anxiety-depression disorder. They were admitted to the NICU, where they showed prolonged RDS, cardiovascular malformations, and facial dysmorphisms. Soon after birth, they also presented abnormal neurobehavioral and motor signs, which partially disappeared during the following weeks, although alterations of tone persisted even at discharge.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are considered the primary treatments for depression and anxiety in pregnancy. Since intrauterine exposure to these drugs has been associated with poor neonatal adaptation, low birth weight, RDS, neurobehavioural symptoms, and potential teratogenic effects, further studies are needed to assess risks and mechanism of action of SSRIs. Meanwhile, it is advisable to evaluate for each patient the real risk/benefit ratio of continuing or suspending treatment during pregnancy.