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J Clin Psychiatry. 1998;59 Suppl 2:18-28.

Psychotropic drug use during pregnancy: weighing the risks.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.


Although psychotropic drugs have not been tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use during pregnancy, some women continue to take these medications while they are pregnant, particularly since mood and anxiety disorders cluster in women during childbearing years. The relative risks and benefits of drug therapy for these women must be weighed with each patient and treatment limited to those situations in which risks to mother and fetus from the disorder are presumed to exceed the risk of drug treatment. Risks of psychotropic drug use during pregnancy include teratogenic effects, direct neonatal toxicity, and the potential for longer term neurobehavioral sequelae. Of growing concern is the risk of untreated psychiatric disorder as it may potentially affect fetoplacental integrity and fetal central nervous system development. Coordination of care with the patient, her husband or partner, and the obstetrician is essential, as is careful medical record documentation when treating pregnant patients with psychiatric disorders.

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