Drug Safety

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 695–706

Treating Mood Disorders During Pregnancy

Safety Considerations
  • Malin Eberhard-Gran
  • Anne Eskild
  • Stein Opjordsmoen
Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/00002018-200528080-00004

Cite this article as:
Eberhard-Gran, M., Eskild, A. & Opjordsmoen, S. Drug-Safety (2005) 28: 695. doi:10.2165/00002018-200528080-00004


Mood disorders in pregnancy may have a negative effect on self care and pregnancy outcome that affects the mother directly and the child indirectly. Thus, some women may require pharmacological treatment. Pharmacotherapy of mood disorders during pregnancy implies specific considerations.

This paper presents an updated review of available studies on the treatment of mood disorders and present knowledge on teratogenicity, neonatal effects and long-term neurobehavioural effects for the different psychotropic drugs, including treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), other antidepressants, benzodiazepines, lithium, carbamazepine/valproic acid, lamotrigine and novel antipsychotics. However, the existing knowledge on the use of antidepressants and mood stabilising agents during pregnancy is hampered by a lack of results from randomised controlled trials.

SSRIs and TCAs have not been associated with an increased risk of major malformations, but poor neonatal adaptation has been described. Benzodiazepines used in the first trimester have been associated with orofacial clefts. Mood stabilisers such as lithium, carbamazepine and valproic acid (sodium valproate) are associated with an increased risk of fetal malformations. Both benzodiazepines and lithium may cause adaptation problems in the newborn. In utero exposure to novel antipsychotics has not been associated with congenital malformations; however, the data are still limited. The knowledge about long-term neurobehavioural effects in the offspring is still limited for all agents and requires further investigation. Possible adverse effects of fetal exposure must be balanced against the adverse effects of an untreated maternal mood disorder.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malin Eberhard-Gran
    • 1
  • Anne Eskild
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stein Opjordsmoen
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of EpidemiologyNorwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Gynaecology and ObstetricsUllevål University HospitalOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUllevål University HospitalOsloNorway