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Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and risk of childhood overweight

  • L. E. Grzeskowiak (a1), A. L. Gilbert (a1) and J. L. Morrison (a2)

The objective was to investigate the association between prenatal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) exposure and overweight in offspring at 4–5 years of age. We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked records from the Women's and Children's Health Network in South Australia, Australia. Women were eligible to participate if they gave birth to singleton, live-born infants between September 2000 and December 2005. Women were excluded if they received a dispensing for an antidepressant other than SSRIs or an antipsychotic or an anti-epileptic or had a chronic medical condition. Of the 6560 eligible women, 71 received a dispensing for an SSRI (exposed), 204 had a reported psychiatric illness but did not receive a dispensing for any antidepressant (untreated psychiatric illness) and 6285 did not have a reported psychiatric illness and did not receive a dispensing for any antidepressant (unexposed). Childhood overweight was classified as a body mass index >85th percentile, based on age and sex. At 4–5 years of age, female offspring of exposed mothers were less likely to be overweight compared with female offspring of mothers with an untreated psychiatric illness [adjusted Prevalence Ratio (aPR) 0.23; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05–0.98] and female offspring of unexposed mothers (aPR 0.27; 0.07–0.99). No association with overweight was observed among male offspring of exposed mothers compared with male offspring of mothers with an untreated psychiatric illness (aPR 1.17; 0.54–2.51) and male offspring of unexposed mothers (aPR 0.93; 0.52–1.67). Further research is required to confirm these findings and examine the potential mechanisms behind the sex-specific differences.

Corresponding author
*Address for Correspondence: Mr L. Grzeskowiak, Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia. (Email
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