Mount Sinai Researchers Find No Statistically Significant Risk of Intellectual Disability in Children born to Mothers Treated with Antidepressants

New York, NY
 – July 12, 2017 /Press Release/  –– 

In a first-of its kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found an elevated risk of intellectual disability (ID) in children born to mothers treated with antidepressants, but the risk was not statistically significant and is likely due to other factors, including parental age and the parents’ psychiatric history.

While other studies have examined the risk of autism in mother’s who took antidepressants during pregnancy, this is the first study to examine the risk of ID in this population.

The study will be published online July 12, 2017, in JAMA Psychiatry.   

Commonly diagnosed in childhood, ID is characterized by major limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior.  No treatments exist for ID and it is associated with substantial health care costs.

The study examined the risk of ID in a population-based cohort of 179,000 children born in Sweden in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 4,000 of those children were exposed to antidepressants and other psychotropic medications during pregnancy. The researchers compared the risk in these children with a subsample of 23,551children whose mothers were diagnosed with depression or anxiety prior to childbirth but did not use antidepressants during pregnancy.

ID was diagnosed in 0.9% of exposed children and 0.5% of unexposed children.  After adjusting for potential confounders, including parental age, the risk of ID after exposure to antidepressant medication was not statistically significant in both the full-population sample and in the sub-sample of women with a history of depression.

“The study did not find a robust association between ID and maternal antidepressant medication during pregnancy,” said the study’s senior author Sven Sandin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

The researchers note that while the study was conducted in Sweden, the findings are applicable in most countries where antidepressants are prescribed.

“Our study provides more information for clinicians to evaluate the risks in pregnant women taking antidepressants,” said co-author Abraham Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It should be factored into other considerations such as the increased risk for the mother if not medicated, the drug’s side effects, and other medical conditions.”

Other institutions involved in this study include The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Dalhousie University in Canada, and the University of Haifa in Israel.

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health; grant HD073978 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; grant MH097849 from the National Institute of Mental Health; by the Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation; by the Canada Research Chairs Program and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Foundation program (148394); by the Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring Foundation; and by the Swedish Society of Medicine.

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the “Honor Roll” of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report.  The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

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