COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Antenatal use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and QT interval prolongation in newborns

Gal Dubnov-Raz, David N Juurlink, Rami Fogelman, Paul Merlob, Shinya Ito, Gideon Koren, Yaron Finkelstein
Pediatrics 2008, 122 (3): e710-5
18762507

OBJECTIVES: Prolongation of the QT interval is a risk factor for sudden death. Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants can prolong the QT interval and are widely used by pregnant women. Whether antenatal exposure to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor causes QT prolongation in offspring is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of maternal use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants during pregnancy on the QTc interval of the offspring.

METHODS: Between January 2000 and December 2005, we collected data on all of the newborns born at a single tertiary care hospital. Electrocardiograms of infants exposed to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants in utero were compared with those of healthy control newborns matched on gestational age. The tracings were interpreted by a pediatric cardiologist who was unaware of the drug exposure.

RESULTS: We identified 52 newborns exposed to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants in the immediate antepartum period and 52 matched control subjects. The mean QTc was significantly longer in the group of newborns exposed to antidepressants as compared with control subjects (409 +/- 42 vs 392 +/- 29 milliseconds). Five (10%) newborns exposed to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants had a markedly prolonged QTc interval (>460 milliseconds) compared with none of the unexposed newborns. The longest QTc interval observed among exposed newborns was 543 milliseconds. All of the drug-associated repolarization abnormalities normalized in subsequent electrocardiographic tracings.

CONCLUSIONS: Antepartum use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants is associated with QTc interval prolongation in exposed neonates. Additional research using a standardized protocol is needed to determine whether exposure to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants in late pregnancy is also associated with arrhythmias.

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