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Executive Function Improved With Prenatal Exposure to SSRIs

MONDAY, May 7, 2018 -- Children with prenatal exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (pSRI) have better executive function (EF) at age 12 years, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 5 to 8 in Toronto.

Sarah Hutchison, Ph.D., from British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouver, and colleagues followed 51 children and their mothers from the second trimester to age 12 years to examine the correlations between pSRI and EF (assessed with the Flanker/Reverse Flanker task). The authors also assessed maternal depressive symptoms (MDS) in the third trimester and at age 12 years, maternal education, child's age, and child's verbal ability.

The researchers found that even after controlling for MDS (prenatal and when child was age 12 years), maternal education, child's age, and verbal ability, children with pSRI performed better on the most demanding part of the Flanker/Reverse Flanker task. Using models of multivariate analysis of covariance controlling for pre- and postnatal MDS as covariates, internalizing and externalizing behaviors did not differ with pSRI exposure status.

"These are important early findings and further research is needed to examine whether 'better' cognitive skills in children with antidepressant exposure reflect a developmental advantage in some ways but also perhaps a risk in other ways, such as perhaps increased anxiety," a coauthor said in a statement.

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Posted: May 2018