Skip to Content
Could you or a loved one be experiencing depression?

Sertraline Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings

Sertraline is also known as: Zoloft

Sertraline Pregnancy Warnings

Animal studies have failed to reveal evidence of teratogenicity; however, there was evidence of delayed ossification and effects on reproduction attributed to maternal toxicity. Decreased neonatal survival following maternal administration at exposures similar to or slightly greater than the maximum recommended human dose of 200 mg was also observed; the clinical significance is unknown. There are no controlled data in human pregnancy. The results of several studies suggest that the use of SSRIs in the first trimester of pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and/or other congenital malformations; however, this association has not been clearly established. The association appears to be strongest for another SSRI, paroxetine. Use of sertraline during pregnancy has been reported to cause symptoms compatible with withdrawal reactions in neonates whose mothers had taken sertraline. Neonates exposed to SSRIs and SNRIs late in the third trimester have uncommonly reported clinical findings including respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These effects have mostly occurred either at birth or within a few days of birth. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs, or possibly a drug discontinuation syndrome; in some cases, the clinical picture is consistent with serotonin syndrome. The results of a cohort study indicate that 30% of neonates who had prolonged exposure to SSRIs in utero experience symptoms, in a dose-response manner, of a neonatal abstinence syndrome after birth. The authors suggest that infants exposed to SSRIs should be closely monitored for a minimum of 48 hours after birth. Epidemiological data have suggested that the use of SSRIs, particularly in late pregnancy, may increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn. Data are not available for SNRIs. One study compared 267 women exposed to an SSRI - either fluvoxamine, paroxetine, or sertraline, to 267 controls. Exposure to SSRIs was not associated with either increased risk for major malformations, higher rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, or prematurity. Mean birth weights among SSRI users were similar to controls as were the gestational ages. The study concluded that the SSRIs fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and sertraline did not appear to increase teratogenic risk when used in their recommended doses. Animal data with sertraline have not shown an effect on fertility. Human case reports from some SSRIs have shown an effect on sperm quality that is reversible. As yet, the impact of this on human fertility has not been observed. AU TGA pregnancy category C: Drugs which, owing to their pharmacological effects, have caused or may be suspected of causing, harmful effects on the human fetus or neonate without causing malformations. These effects may be reversible. Accompanying texts should be consulted for further details. US FDA pregnancy category C: Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.

This drug should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus, taking into account the risks of untreated depression. AU TGA pregnancy category: C US FDA pregnancy category: C Comments: Newborns should be monitored if the maternal use of this drug continues into the later stages of pregnancy, particularly, the third trimester.

See references

Sertraline Breastfeeding Warnings

Benefit should outweigh risk; use is not generally recommended. Excreted into human milk: Yes Comments: -This drug has been considered one of the preferred antidepressants during breastfeeding -Accumulation of the drug may occur in preterm infants with impaired metabolic activity; effects similar to neonatal abstinence may rarely present in these infants. -Mothers taking an SSRI during pregnancy and postpartum may have difficulty breastfeeding and may require additional breastfeeding support.

Benign neonatal sleep myoclonus in a 4-month-old infant and agitation in that spontaneously resolved in another infant was reported to the Australian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee and may be related to the presence of sertraline in breastmilk. Levels of sertraline in breastmilk are reported to be low; the weakly active metabolite desmethylsertraline may be detectable in low levels. In a study of 26 breastfeeding women who were, on average, 15.8 weeks postpartum and receiving an average of 124 mg sertraline daily for at least 14 days for severe depression, complete sets of milk sample data were available for 15 mothers. Analysis of these samples led the study authors to estimate that an exclusively breastfed infant would receive an average of 0.54% of the maternal weight-adjusted dosage. Pumping and discarding milk 8 to 9 hours after the mother's dose would decrease the infant's daily dosage by 17%. Amounts of sertraline ingested by breastfed infants are reported to be small. There was an analysis of 30 breastfed infants aged 6 to 13 weeks, of which 19 were exclusively breastfed and 11 breastfed at least half the time. Serum sertraline levels were below 1 mcg/L in 22 infants. The other 8 infants had an average serum sertraline level of 7.9 mcg/L; their mothers were taking a average of 109 mg sertraline daily, with an average serum level of 52.8 mcg/L. The data from one study on three breast-fed infants suggested that sertraline and/or its almost inactive metabolite norsertraline may be present at very low concentrations in the plasma of breast-fed infants. No adverse effects were noted in the infants. A pooled analysis of 53 mother-infant pairs from published and unpublished cases found that infants had an average of 2% of the sertraline plasma levels of the mothers'; three of the infants had a plasma level greater than 10% of the mothers'. A study of fourteen mother-infant pairs reported that while mothers receiving clinical doses of sertraline experienced substantial blockade of the platelet 5-HT transporter, platelet 5-HT uptake in nursing infants of treated mothers was unaltered. Another study of twelve breast-feeding mothers reported that both sertraline and desmethylsertraline were present in all breast milk samples. Detectable levels of sertraline were reported in three nursing infants and detectable levels of desmethylsertraline were reported in six infants. A case study of a mother breast-feeding while receiving sertraline therapy has also been reported. The drug was found to be present in the mother's milk. However, no sertraline was detected in the infant's serum and no abnormal occurrences were noted in the development of this infant either.

See references

References for pregnancy information

  1. "Product Information. Zoloft (sertraline)." Roerig Division, New York, NY.
  2. Australian Government. Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutic Goods Administration "Information for health professionals concerning use of SSRI antidepressants in pregnant women. Available from: URL:" ([2005 Sept 7]):
  3. "Use of psychoactive medication during pregnancy and possible effects on the fetus and newborn. Committee on Drugs. American Academy of Pediatrics." Pediatrics 105(4 Pt 1) (2000): 880-7
  4. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0
  5. Kulin NA, Pastuszak A, Sage SR, Schick-Boschetto B, Spivey G, Feldkamp M, Ormond K, Matsui D, Stein-Schechman AK, Cook L, Brochu J, Rieder M "Pregnancy outcome following maternal use of the new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a prospective controlled multicente study." JAMA 279 (1998): 609-10
  6. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0
  7. Kent LSW, Laidlaw DD "Suspected congenital sertraline dependence." Br J Psychiatry 167 (1995): 412-3
  8. Levinson-Castiel R, Merlob P, Linder N, Sirota L, Klinger G "Neonatal abstinence syndrome after in utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in term infants." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 160 (2006): 173-6

References for breastfeeding information

  1. Stowe ZN, Owens MJ, Landry JC, Kilts CD, Ely T, Llewellyn A, Nemeroff CB "Sertraline and desmethylsertraline in human breast milk and nursing infants." Am J Psychiatry 154 (1997): 1255-60
  2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0
  3. Whitby DH, Smith KM "The use of tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in women who are breastfeeding." Pharmacotherapy 25 (2005): 411-25
  4. Mammen OK, Perel JM, Rudolph G, Foglia JP, Wheeler SB "Sertraline and norsertraline levels in three breastfed infants." J Clin Psychiatry 58 (1997): 100-3
  5. United States National Library of Medicine "Toxnet. Toxicology Data Network. Available from: URL:" ([cited 2013 -]):
  6. "Product Information. Zoloft (sertraline)." Roerig Division, New York, NY.
  7. Epperson N, Czarkowski KA, Ward-O'Brien D, et al. "Maternal sertraline treatment and serotonin transport in breast-feeding mother-infant pairs." Am J Psychiatry 158 (2001): 1631-7
  8. Llewellyn A, Stowe ZN "Psychotropic medications in lactation." J Clin Psychiatry 59 Suppl 2 (1998): 41-52

See Also...

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Wolters Kluwer Health and is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This drug information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for any given patient. Multum Information Services, Inc. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. Copyright 2000-2008 Multum Information Services, Inc. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.