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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;86(6):672-7. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2009.201. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Sustained neurobehavioral effects of exposure to SSRI antidepressants during development: molecular to clinical evidence.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are frequently used in the management of antenatal maternal mood disturbances. SSRIs readily cross the placenta and increase central serotonergic tone in the fetus. Given serotonin's key neurodevelopmental role, such prenatal exposure raises concerns about its impact on child development. Preclinical studies report enduring molecular, physiological, and behavioral consequences of developmental SSRI exposure. In humans, sustained developmental outcomes remain largely unstudied, and distinguishing between the effects of prenatal SSRI exposure and the impact of maternal mental illness remains a key challenge.

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