SSRI Exposure During Pregnancy May Delay School Entry for Children

baby in utero
baby in utero
In utero exposure to SSRI may be associated with delayed starting of elementary school and special education needs.

Exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in utero is associated with delayed elementary school start, according to results published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. However, SSRI exposure in utero was not associated with special education needs in early elementary school.

Overall, the results suggest that SSRIs do not affect milestone development in children.

The study included children who were exposed to SSRIs in utero (n=3314) and a control group of children who were not exposed to SSRIs but who were born to mothers who had previously been taking SSRIs (n=3536).

In the SSRI-exposed children group, 3.2% (n=98) had special school needs compared with 2.4% (n=77) of unexposed children. SSRI-exposed children were more likely to have delayed school entry (12.3%; n=383) compared with unexposed children (9.4%; n=208).

The researchers did not find an overall association between in utero SSRI exposure and special education needs or delayed school start, with adjusted odds ratios (OR) of 1.12 (95% CI, 0.82-1.55) and 1.17 (95% CI, 0.991.38), respectively.

Related Articles

The researchers also calculated ORs for SSRI exposure in all 3 trimesters. The association between SSRI exposure in all trimesters and special education needs in elementary school was not significant, but the OR for delayed school entry was significant at 1.40 (95% CI, 1.11-1.76).


Dr Kragholm has received research grants from The Laerdal Foundation and speaker’s honoraria from Novartis. Dr. Polcwiartek has received speaker’s honoraria from H. Lundbeck. Dr Torp-Pedersen has received grants from Bayer and Biotronic and has received speaker’s honorarium from Bayer. Dr Nielsen has received speaker’s honorarium from H. Lundbeck, Sunovion, and Bristol Myers- Squibb. The other authors report no disclosures.


Kragholm K, Andersen MP, Mortensen RN, et al. Exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in utero and early elementary school outcomes [published online February 25, 2018]. Acta Psychiatr Scand. doi: 10.1111/acps.12867