Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are frequently used during pregnancy. Evidence about the long-term consequences of prenatal SSRI exposure on child neurodevelopment is controversial. We prospectively investigated whether prenatal SSRI exposure was associated with childhood non-verbal cognition in a population-based study, and contrasted it to exposure to depressive symptoms (without SSRIs). We included 71 children prenatally exposed to SSRIs, 385 children prenatally exposed to maternal depressive symptoms and 5427 unexposed children. Child executive functioning was assessed by maternal report at 4 years (n=4020). Non-verbal intelligence was measured at 5 years (n=5001) and children were tested with a neuropsychological battery at 7 years (n=1194). Prenatal SSRI exposure was not related to maternal reported executive function at 4 years, nor was it related with observed non-verbal intelligence at age 5 or neuropsychological function at 7 years. Exposure to untreated maternal depressive symptoms was related to maternal reported shifting problems and emotional control problems at 4 years. No associations between exposure to depressive symptoms and observed non-verbal IQ at 5 years or neuropsychological function at 7 years were found. This population-based study suggests that neither SSRI use nor untreated depressive symptoms during pregnancy had a major impact on child non-verbal cognition.

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Journal of Psychopharmacology
Department of Psychology

El Marroun, H., White, T., Fernández, G., Jaddoe, V., Verhulst, F., Stricker, B., & Tiemeier, H. (2017). Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and non-verbal cognitive functioning in childhood. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(3), 346–355. doi:10.1177/0269881116665335.