Prenatal exposure to antidepressants causes adult anxiety in offsprings

 Scientists have found that early exposure to antidepressants may not be good for the offsprings as adults.

ANI| Updated: Dec 22, 2014, 13:57 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have found that early exposure to antidepressants may not be good for the offsprings as adults.

Many women tend to suffer from anxiety disorders and depression during their pregnancies, and are prescribed antidepressants. However little is known about how early exposure to these medications might affect their offspring as they mature into adults.

The answer to that question is vital, as 5 percent of all babies born in the U.S. - more than 200,000 a year - are exposed to antidepressants during gestation via transmission from their mothers.

Now, a UCLA team has 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 behavior in the adult mice.

Study's senior author Prof. Anne M. Andrews said that the mice exposed to Lexapro had permanent changes in serotonin neurotransmission and were less anxious as adults than the mice exposed to Prozac, which was quite surprising, since the medications belonged to the same drug class.

The implications of the findings of the six-year study were that with additional investigation, it might be possible to identify specific antidepressants that were safer for pregnant women, Andrews said.

SSRIs like Prozac and Lexapro act by blocking the actions of a protein called the serotonin transporter, which removes the neurotransmitter serotonin from the signaling space between neurons.

Andrews said that 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. However, it would take much more research for us to understand whether this was true and whether certain SSRIs may be better at promoting these effects.

The findings appear online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.