Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Original article
Variation in the management of SSRI-exposed babies across England
  1. Eliza Thomas1,
  2. Phil J Peacock2,
  3. Sarah E Bates2
  1. 1 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Department of Paediatrics, Great Western Hospital, Swindon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Phil J Peacock; phil.peacock{at}


Background Depression in pregnancy is commonly treated using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). A possible withdrawal syndrome following in utero exposure has been reported, but there is currently no UK guidance on the management of these neonates.

Methods All 160 neonatal units in England were asked for information regarding their management of SSRI-exposed babies.

Results Responses were obtained from 112/160 (70%) units. Only four units had a specific protocol for managing SSRI-exposed neonates. Twenty-one units (19%) conduct routine observations on exposed neonates, while 37 units (33%) would consider treating babies with signs of withdrawal or toxicity.

Conclusions Very few neonatal units in England have specific guidelines for the management of babies exposed to SSRIs in utero, with practice varying greatly between units. Further research is needed on the outcomes of SSRI-exposed babies to support development of standardised evidence-based guidelines to ensure all mothers and babies receive similar high-quality care.

  • neonatology
  • drug withdrawal

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors ET and PJP designed the study, with advice from SEB. ET collected and analysed the data. ET produced the first draft of this paper, with PJP and SEB contributing to the final version.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.