Antidepressant Use and Depression Symptoms in Pregnancy




Stephanie D'Souza


University of Auckland
Professor Karen Waldie


There is evidence that both depression and antidepressant use during pregnancy are associated with adverse birth and later child outcomes. Evidence is mixed with regards to antidepressant use, with more information needed on whether it poses a greater risk of adverse outcomes relative to unmedicated maternal depression. This project examines antidepressant use and depressive symptoms in pregnant mothers from the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study, and how they relate to offspring outcomes up to age 8 years. Specific distinctions are made among those on antidepressants, those with unmedicated depression, and those exposed to neither.


Trends in Antidepressant Exposure during Pregnancy
Tuesday 11 August 2020

Global trends have shown an increase in antidepressant exposure during pregnancy, particularly with the use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). We examine whether increased dispensing of antidepressants has also been observed in New Zealand’s pregnant population.

We investigate antidepressant dispensing in all resident New Zealanders with at least one successful pregnancy, over the period 2007/08 to 2017/18, and explore dispensing by medication type, trimester, ethnicity, age, and area-level deprivation.

Results suggest increased use of antidepressants among pregnant New Zealanders, paralleling global trends, although demographic differences are apparent, and may reflect barriers to access for certain groups relative to others.