Psychopharmacotherapy in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Fifteen percent to 20% of pregnant women suffer from mental disorders, and 86% of them are not treated due to potential teratogenic risks for the fetus. Several drugs seem to be safe during pregnancy but knowledge regarding risks of antenatal exposure to drugs is still limited.


The aim of this article is to provide a review of literature, data, and a clinical guideline concerning the treatment and management of mental disorders during pregnancy and lactation.

Evidence Acquisition

Bibliographical research was carried out using Medline and Pubmed (from 2005 until 2015) and articles, books and Websites were consulted.


Regarding antidepressants, only paroxetine seems to lead to an increased risk of malformations, whereas fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram and venlafaxine do not appear to increase this risk. The use of duloxetine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy but not with an increased risk of adverse events, such as birth defects. There is no clear evidence of malformation risk associated with the use of antipsychotics, whereas a risk associated with pregnancy and newborn outcome has been detected. All mood stabilizers are associated with risks of birth defects and perinatal complications.

Conclusions and Relevance

Taking psychoactive drugs is possible during pregnancy, but it is important to consider various effects of the drugs. Future research should focus on prospective and longitudinal studies with an adequate evaluation of confounding variables. This should be followed by long-term studies to obtain accurate measures of child development.

Target Audience

Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, the learner should be better able to identify the main categories of psychiatric drugs used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, discuss side effects for the mother and the newborn associated with these drugs, and use the most appropriate drug according to different clinical situations.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles