The British Journal of Psychiatry
Living with uncertainty: antidepressants and pregnancy
Ian Jones, Liz McDonald
  • Declaration of interest

    I.J. has received honoraria from Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Lundbeck, Janssen, and AstraZeneca for giving talks on psychoeducation for bipolar disorder and his research on prenatal psychosis.


There have been a large number of studies in recent years reporting on the reproductive safety of antidepressant medication. Some studies, but not all, have reported an association of antidepressant exposure in pregnancy and the subsequent development of autism spectrum disorders. It remains difficult to know whether the modest increase in risk is due to the medication, to the mood disorder itself, or to other confounding factors. For any individual woman the decision to commence or continue antidepressant medication in pregnancy must be made after a full consideration of the potential risks and benefits of all options, including non-pharmacological treatments. In making these difficult decisions it is important to recognise that episodes of severe psychiatric illness may have very serious negative consequences for the woman, her baby and her family, and these must be weighed against what is known about the risks of taking medication.

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