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Dev Psychobiol. 1998 Apr;32(3):249-56.

Psychotropic drugs in breast milk: no evidence for adverse effects on prepulse modulation of startle reflex or on cognitive level in infants.

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Section of Perinatal Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


Reversals in modulation of the startle reflex probably reflect maturational processes in the central nervous system. This study has investigated the longitudinal changes in prepulse modulation of the blink reflex in three groups of individual infants: (a) breast-fed infants of mentally ill mothers who were prescribed selected psychotropic drugs, (b) bottle-fed infants of similarly ill and medicated mothers, and (c) breast-fed infants of healthy control mothers. The acoustic stimulation paradigm and neurophysiological methods were similar to those used in previous studies and, in addition, the infants' development was simultaneously assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. All the infants were found to be developing normally and across all three groups we observed a clear transition in prepulse modulation of the eye-blink reflex from small inhibition or facilitation in early infancy (1-4 months) to a robust facilitation in middle infancy (5-8 months). This reversal probably reflects the changing balance of developing neural function in normal infants. There were, therefore, no discernible effects in breast-fed infants of exposure to small doses of antidepressant or neuroleptic drugs.

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