Antipsychotic use in pregnancy

Jayashri Kulkarni, Adele Storch, Analin Baraniuk, Heather Gilbert, Emmy Gavrilidis, Roisin Worsley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Antipsychotic medications are being prescribed for a growing number of women with mental illnesses. However, evidence regarding their safety in pregnancy is still insufficient to provide adequate support for clinical practice, creating increasing concern among pregnant women and clinicians.Areas covered: The aim of this article is to review published data regarding the safety of antipsychotic medications in pregnancy with a focus on the most commonly used atypical antipsychotics.Expert opinion: Given the potential harm of not treating severe psychiatric illnesses during pregnancy, careful administration of antipsychotics is recommended for pregnant women who suffer from severe mental disorders. The most frequently used antipsychotics in pregnancy are olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine, and do not appear to cause consistent, congenital harm to the fetus. No specific patterns of fetal limb or organ malformation related to these drugs have been reported. There is some evidence suggesting an association between antipsychotic use in pregnancy and the development of gestational diabetes. Also there appears to be an association between antipsychotic medication use in pregnancy and increased neonatal respiratory distress and withdrawal symptoms. Further studies are needed for clinicians to balance good maternal mental health, healthy pregnancies and good infant health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1345
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Antipsychotics
  • Fetal development
  • Mental illness
  • Pregnancy
  • Teratogenicity

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