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J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;63 Suppl 4:42-55.

The reproductive safety profile of mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and broad-spectrum psychotropics.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Cambridge Hospital-Harvard Medical School, Mass, USA.


There has been growing concern about the potential iatrogenic effects of several newer psychotropic drugs on reproductive health safety in women. Areas of particular concern in this regard include (1) controversies about a potential association between the use of valproate and development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), (2) the safety of use of newer psychotropic medications during pregnancy, and (3) safety issues with these medications in women while breastfeeding. This review summarizes current information about each of these areas. In particular, existing data suggest that (1) PCOS very likely represents a complex neuroendocrine disorder with multiple determinants; (2) menstrual irregularities may be a frequently seen phenomenon in women with bipolar illness, at least partially independent of psychotropic drug therapy; (3) potential central nervous system teratogenicity remains substantial during first-trimester exposure to valproate or carbamazepine; (4) with newer agents used for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, safety data during pregnancy, while not definitive, are most abundant with olanzapine and with lamotrigine; relatively less is known about systematic pregnancy outcomes with other atypical antipsychotics or newer anticonvulsants; and (5) risks for neonatal safety during lactation continue to appear substantial with lithium, are of potential concern with lamotrigine and clozapine, are quite likely minimal with valproate or carbamazepine, and are indeterminate with most other new anticonvulsants or atypical antipsychotics. Recommendations are presented for clinical management in each of these instances.

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