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Antipsychotic Drugs During Pregnancy Linked to Motor Delays

Antipsychotic Drugs During Pregnancy Linked to Motor DelaysBabies 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

Pregnant woman taking medication photo by shutterstock.


Antipsychotic Drugs During Pregnancy Linked to Motor Delays

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Antipsychotic Drugs During Pregnancy Linked to Motor Delays. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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