New York: Use of certain antidepressants during pregnancy can lead to life-long changes in anxiety-related behaviour in their offspring and protect them from anxiety-related disorders when they turn adults, research has found.
“The implications of these findings are that with additional investigation, it may be possible to identify specific antidepressants that are safer for pregnant women," said study senior author Anne Andrews, professor of psychiatry and chemistry and biochemistry at University of California, Los Angeles.
The researchers studied early developmental exposure to two different antidepressants, Prozac and Lexapro, in a mouse model that mimics human third trimester medication exposure.
They found that, although these serotonin-selective reuptake inhibiting antidepressants (SSRIs) were thought to work the same way, they did not produce the same long-term changes in anxiety behaviour in the adult mice.
The mice exposed to Lexapro had permanent changes in serotonin neurotransmission and were less anxious as adults than the mice exposed to Prozac.
"This was quite surprising, since these medications belong to the same drug class and are believed to work by the same mechanism," said Andrews.
"It might be possible that when mothers are treated for depression or anxiety during pregnancy that certain SSRIs may promote resilience to developing these disorders in children later in life," Andrews added.
The study appeared online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.