Korean J Psychopharmacol.  2014 Jul;25(3):101-106.

Study of Adverse Effect to Preterm Labor and Fetus Development after Prenatal Psychotropic Exposure

  • 1Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea. jsnoh@ajou.ac.kr


Psychotropic drugs use in pregnant mothers with psychiatric disorders raises issues of safety not only with the mothers but also with fetal development and the postpartum prognosis of the neonate. Several studies have reported on the harmful effects of antenatal exposure to psychotropic drugs. However, debatable disregard of the psychiatric disorder itself and issues of necessary and useful pharmacotherapy clouds the results. Hence, the purpose of this study was to retrospectively examine the association between prenatal psychotropic exposure and clinically evident fetal adverse effects.
From January 1994 to December 2011, a retrospective chart review of patients diagnosed with a major psychiatric disorder from the department of psychiatry and who also had a history of giving birth at the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Ajou University Hospital was conducted. Participants were divided into two groups: those taking psychotropic drugs during pregnancy were designated to the case group and the control group consisted of those not on psychotropics during pregnancy. Psychotropics included antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines used in clinical dosages. Then the two groups were compared on factors such as gestational age, the offspring's birth weight, bitemporal diameter, and Apgar scores. After then, we analyzed relatively risk potential to the preterm labor in such variables (old age pregnancy, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and exposure psychotropics in pregnancy). T-test and logistic regression analysis of the data was performed.
Demographic and clinical characteristics did not differ significantly between the groups. Also, there was no significant difference in gestational age, birth weight, bitemporal diameter and Apgar scores between the exposure and non-exposure groups. There was no significant relationship between psychotropic exposure during pregnancy, old age pregnancy, gestational diabetes and preterm labor. However, the relationship between gestational hypertension and preterm labor was significant.
Psychotropic drugs are considered as significant clinical treatment options to control symptoms of psychiatric disorders during pregnancy. In the clinical setting there was no statistically significant relationship between psychotropic exposure and gestational age on fetal development. However the retrospective nature of the study limits the interpretation of the data and constant close monitoring of pregnant patients in the clinical setting is advised.


Pregnancy; Psychotropic; Preterm labor

MeSH Terms

Antidepressive Agents
Antipsychotic Agents
Birth Weight
Diabetes, Gestational
Drug Therapy
Fetal Development
Gestational Age
Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced
Infant, Newborn
Logistic Models
Obstetric Labor, Premature*
Postpartum Period
Psychotropic Drugs
Retrospective Studies
Antidepressive Agents
Antipsychotic Agents
Psychotropic Drugs
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