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Depress Anxiety. 2019 Aug;36(8):753-765. doi: 10.1002/da.22906. Epub 2019 May 8.

Hub distribution of the brain functional networks of newborns prenatally exposed to maternal depression and SSRI antidepressants.

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Graduate Program in Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
BC Children Hospital MRI Research Facility, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas.
Brain Mapping, Neuroinformatics and Neurotechnology Laboratory, Division of Neurology, British Columbia Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.
Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, Canada.
Division of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



Prenatal maternal depression (PMD) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are associated with increased developmental risk in infants. Reports suggest that PMD is associated with hyperconnectivity of the insula and the amygdala, while SSRI exposure is associated with hyperconnectivity of the auditory network in the infant brain. However, associations between functional brain organization and PMD and/or SSRI exposure are not well understood.


We examined the relation between PMD or SSRI exposure and neonatal brain functional organization. Infants of control (n = 17), depressed SSRI-treated (n = 20) and depressed-only (HAM-D ≥ 8) (n = 16) women, underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging at postnatal Day 6. At 6 months, temperament was assessed using Infant Behavioral Questionnaire (IBQ). We applied GTA and partial least square regression (PLSR) to the resting-state time series to assess group differences in modularity, and connector and provincial hubs.


Modularity was similar across all groups. The depressed-only group showed higher connector hub values in the left anterior cingulate, insula, and caudate as well as higher provincial hub values in the amygdala compared to the control group. The SSRI group showed higher provincial hub values in Heschl's gyrus relative to the depressed-only group. PLSR showed that newborns' hub values predicted 10% of the variability in infant temperament at 6 months, suggesting different developmental patterns between groups.


Prenatal exposures to maternal depression and SSRIs have differential impacts on neonatal functional brain organization. Hub values at 6 days predict variance in temperament between infant groups at 6 months of age.


SSRIs; depression; fMRI; infant; prenatal exposure


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