Taking a specific group of antidepressants, namely selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), during pregnancy can affect brain activity in newborns. This is the result of a Finnish study published in “Cerebral Cortex”.
The study, carried out by scientists at the University of Helsinki, included 22 pregnant women who took SSRIs and 62 controls without medication during pregnancy. They assessed to what extent the mothers’ psychiatric symptoms and the medication affected the newborn’s neurological development and brain activity.
While structured behavioural and neurological tests indicated only minor effects of SSRIs, EEG scans however found several differences between the study and the control group. For instance, the communication between the brain hemispheres was less organised and the cortical rhythms exhibited a weaker synchronisation.
However, researchers stressed that the extent of maternal depression was not associated with these differences. This confirms that the effect is caused by the medication. The researchers therefore conclude that pregnant women with depression who take SSRIs should be closely monitored or treated without SSRIs. Recent studies have provided promising results of group therapy in treating depression and anxiety during pregnancy.