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Antidepressant use in pregnancy and severe cardiac malformations: Danish register-based study

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  • L Kolding
  • V Ehrenstein
  • L Pedersen
  • P Sandager
  • O B Petersen
  • N Uldbjerg
  • L H Pedersen
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OBJECTIVE: Studies restricted to live births may underestimate severe teratogenic effects. We address the limitation by including data from both prenatal and postnatal diagnoses of cardiac malformations.

DESIGN: Register-based study.

SETTING: Denmark.

POPULATION: 364 012 singleton pregnancies from 2007 to 2014.

METHODS: We used data from five nationwide registries. Exposure to antidepressants was measured using redeemed prescriptions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pregnancies with cardiac malformations that end in miscarriage, termination, stillbirth, postnatal death or cardiac surgery <1 year of birth were classified as severe cardiac malformations (SCM). Propensity scores with adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) were calculated.

RESULTS: SCM were reported in 972 of 364 012 pregnancies overall and in 16 of 4105 exposed. For venlafaxine, the PR for SCM was 2.13 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.89-5.13), 1.73 (95% CI 1.08-2.77) for other cardiac malformations, and there was a cluster of hypoplastic left heart syndromes (HLHS) (crude PR 17.4 [95% CI 6.41-47.2]), none of which ended in a live birth. For HLHS, the absolute risk increase was 4.4/1000 and the number needed to harm was 225. For selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the PRs were 1.09 (95% CI 0.52-2.30) and 1.38 (95% CI 1.00-1.92) for SCM and other cardiac malformations, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy exposure to venlafaxine is associated with an increased risk of severe cardiac malformations but with a low absolute risk. Potential mechanisms include direct effects or confounding by indication. Venlafaxine exposure is a marker for risk pregnancies for which fetal echocardiography may be considered.

TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: Exposure to venlafaxine is associated with an increased risk of cardiac malformations but with a low absolute risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
Volume128
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1949-1957
Number of pages9
ISSN1470-0328
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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