Perinatal mental health, antidepressants and neonatal outcomes: Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Andrew J. Lewis, Megan Galbally, Catherine M. Bailey

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Background This study presents findings on the characteristics of women who used antidepressants in pregnancy and how such mothers compare to depressed and non-depressed mothers in terms of their demographics and health across pregnancy. We also present findings on the birth outcomes for these three groups of women. Methods Data were drawn from the first wave of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). This study examined n=5,107 infants, who were assessed in their first year. Mothers reported antidepressants as a prescribed medicine over their pregnancy. Results In this nationally representative study, the 2.1% of Australian women who indicated that they took antidepressants during their pregnancy also took more general medications, were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol during pregnancy, and also reported higher depression scores at wave one and more infant sleep problems than the non-depressed control group. Infants exposed to antidepressants showed reduced length at birth. Conclusions Antidepressant use during pregnancy in Australian women is reasonably prevalent. Caution in prescription is needed given that adverse child developmental outcomes have not been ruled out by existing studies. The current findings point to the complexity of multiple in utero exposures from smoking, alcohol, depression and antidepressants impacting on child developmental outcomes. Clinical guidelines are needed to provide optimal clinical care for infants who were exposed in utero to antidepressants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalNeonatal, Paediatric and Child Health Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Neonatal outcomes
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

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