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Antipsychotic Meds in Pregnancy May Affect Infant’s Neuromotor Skills

Filed April 9th, 2012 Laurie

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, say antipsychotic medications taken by pregnant mothers are being linked to significantly lower than normal scores on standard tests of movement, posture and reflexes. Researchers evaluated over 300 infants age six months of age and studied their neuromotor skills. Some of the babies’ mothers took either antipsychotic drugs or antidepressant drugs during pregnancy. Some took no psychiatric medication whatsoever.

Infants whose mothers took antipsychotics scored significantly lower on the neuromotor test than infants whose mothers took antidepressants or no psychiatric medication. Only one in five babies exposed to prenatal antipsychotic medication had normal test results.

People generally take antipsychotics to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. More and more, these drugs are used to treat common mental disorders like depression.

Researchers want to see more thorough planning in regard to medication planning, treatments and risk/benefits discussion for pregnant women who are suffering from psychiatric illnesses.

Approximately two-thirds of women with mental illness give birth, but research into the safety and effectiveness of taking antipsychotic drugs while pregnant is nearly non-existent.

“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.

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