TORONTO – according to a small study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.
“Given the frequency of SSRI use during pregnancy and continued conflicting results regarding cardiac effects, it is an important area of study,” senior author Sarah Haskell, DO, said in an interview. Her group at the University of Iowa in Coralville, which includes first author Deidra Ansah, MD, previously demonstrated reduced ventricular size and cardiac function in sertraline-exposed animal models.
Compared with unexposed newborns, SSRI-exposed infants had a 16% reduction in right ventricular (RV) diameter in diastole (P = .02) and a 22% reduction in left ventricular (LV) volume in systole (P = .02). They also had decreased LV lengths in diastole and systole (P = .045 and .004, respectively), but no impact was noted on cardiac function, as measured by shortening fraction.
“While cardiac function was appropriate on the initial echocardiogram, there were significant differences in cardiac dimensions,” said Dr. Haskell. “Whether these differences influence health and disease susceptibility requires further, longer-term studies.”
Her group plans to continue investigating the effects of SSRIs on cardiac development and also plans to study the offspring of women who are depressed but not on pharmacologic treatment to determine the effects of depression alone on cardiac size and function.
Dr. Haskell and her colleagues studied 21 term infants without and 20 term infants with exposure to in utero SSRIs who underwent standard echocardiograms including four-chamber and M-mode views within 48 hours of life. Exclusion criteria included prematurity, large or small for gestational age, any respiratory or cardiac support, and any major congenital malformations.