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Article
November 2002

Perinatal Outcome Following Third Trimester Exposure to Paroxetine

Author Affiliations

From the Motherisk program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology/Toxicology, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(11):1129-1132. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.11.1129
Abstract

Background  Paroxetine hydrochloride is commonly used for maternal depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The drug readily crosses the human placenta. Although it does not appear to increase teratogenic risk, there have been case reports of neonatal withdrawal. Symptoms were described soon after birth and lasted up to 1 month.

Objective  To investigate whether there is a clinically important discontinuation syndrome in neonates exposed to paroxetine in utero.

Methods  Prospective, controlled cohort study.

Patients  Fifty-five pregnant women counseled prospectively by the Motherisk program in Toronto, Ontario, regarding third-trimester exposure to paroxetine and their infants were included in the study group. Pregnant women who discontinued paroxetine before the third trimester or those receiving other drugs known to cause withdrawal-type symptoms, such as opioids or benzodiazepines, were excluded. A comparison group of 27 women using paroxetine during the first or second trimester and 27 women using nonteratogenic drugs were matched for maternal age, gravity, parity, social drug use, and nonteratogenic drug use.

Results  Of the 55 neonates exposed to paroxetine in late gestation, 12 had complications necessitating intensive treatment and prolonged hospitalization. The most prevalent clinical picture was respiratory distress (n = 9), followed by hypoglycemia (n = 2), and jaundice (n = 1). The symptoms disappeared within 1 to 2 weeks. In the comparison group, only 3 infants experienced complications (P = .03). In logistic regression, only third-trimester exposure to paroxetine was associated with neonatal distress (odds ratio, 9.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-79.3).

Conclusion  When used near term, paroxetine is associated with a high rate of neonatal complications, possibly caused by its common discontinuation syndrome.

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