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Pediatr Res. 2009 Feb;65(2):236-41. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318193594a.

Effect of exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in utero on fetal growth: potential role for the IGF-I and HPA axes.

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Department of Neonatology, Helen Schneider Hospital for Women, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tiqwa 49100, Israel.


To investigate the possible effect of fetal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on somatic growth and on hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I axes, we compared the anthropometric parameters and hormonal profile of 21 SSRI-exposed infants and 20 matched controls. The SSRI group was characterized by lower crown-heel length (p < 0.01), smaller head circumference (p = 0.08), and higher percentage of infants with birth weight, birth length, and head circumference below the 10th percentile (p < 0.045, p = 0.08, p < 0.04, respectively), in addition to a significantly lower cord blood level of cortisol (p < 0.03) and higher level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) (p < 0.004). Infants exposed to citalopram had a lower cord blood IGF-I level than infants exposed to paroxetine (p < 0.001) and controls (p < 0.003). Placental IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) expression was significantly higher in the SSRI group than in controls (p < 0.01). Urine 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) level was negatively correlated with birth weight (r = -0.71, p < 0.025) and with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) level (r = -0.71, p < 0.025). The Finnegan score was correlated with dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) (r = 0.8, p < 0.005) and cortisol (r = 0.62, p = 0.05). Fetal exposure to SSRIs causes impaired intrauterine growth accompanied by alterations in the IGF-I and HPA axes. The findings may raise concern regarding maternal use of SSRIs during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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