Babies whose pregnant mothers took antipsychotic medications have significantly lower than normal scores on standard tests of movement, posture and reflexes, according to researchers at Emory University, Atlanta.
Antipsychotic drugs are commonly used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and are increasingly being used to treat more common mental disorders, such as depression.
Researchers evaluated the neuromotor skills of over 300 infants at 6 months of age. Some of the infants’ mothers took either antipsychotic drugs or antidepressants during pregnancy, and some took no psychiatric medications.
Babies born to mothers who took antipsychotics had significantly lower scores on the neuromotor test than infants whose mothers took antidepressants or no psychiatric medications.
Furthermore, only 1 in 5 babies exposed to prenatal antipsychotic drugs had normal test results.
“Future investigations are warranted to disentangle the relative contribution of antipsychotic medications, maternal mental illness, medications and the broader psychosocial context in the developmental trajectory of high-risk infants,” study author Katrina Johnson, a clinical psychologist at Emory, and colleagues said in a journal news release.
Researchers believe that because of these results, there should be thorough planning regarding medication selection, treatments and risk/benefit discussions for women with illnesses who may need antipsychotics during pregnancy.
Approximately two-thirds of women with a history of mental illness give birth, but there has been minimal research into the safety and effectiveness of taking psychiatric medications while pregnant, the researchers noted.
The research did not prove that antipsychotic drugs caused motor-skill delays; it simply showed an association.
The study appears online in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
Source: Emory University