Antipsychotics During Pregnancy Linked to Infant Movement Problems

New research suggests that the use of some antipsychotic medications during pregnancy may increase the risk of movement problems for infants. 

According to a study published by the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that pregnant women with mental disorders who took drugs like Seroquel and Risperdal were more likely to give birth to children who had a harder time with posture and movement, when compared to children born to mothers who took an antidepressants or no drugs at all.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta looked at six month old infants born to mothers who were given either antipsychotics, antidepressants or no drugs at all. The women’s infants were given a standardized neuromotor test known as the Infant Neurological International Battery (INFANIB), which tests the child’s posture, muscle tone, reflexes and motor skills.

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Infants with prenatal exposure to antipsychotics tended to score more poorly on the INFANIB than infants exposed to antidepressants or no drugs at all. One-third of pregnant women with mental disorders such as bipolar, depression and anxiety are believed to take antipsychotics at some point during their pregnancy..

Antipsychotics are a broad class of medication used to treat psychiatric problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but they are also often used by doctors to treat a variety of off-label ailments that have not been approved by the FDA. The drugs are known to have the ability to cross the placenta and affect unborn children.

Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) is an atypical-antipsychotic that is a top selling drug for AstraZeneca, generating nearly $5 billion a year in sales. Originally approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of schizophrenia, it has also been frequently prescribed off-label for uses that were not approved as safe and effective at the time, such as anxiety, obsessive dementia, compulsive disorders and autism. AstraZeneca reached a $520 million settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over off-labeling charges in 2010.

Risperdal (risperidone) is manufactured by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen. The atypical antipsychotic is approved by FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.


  • MichaelDecember 21, 2012 at 4:53 am

    My 5 y/o grand daughter has Autism Spectrum disorder. My daughter was given Seroquel and Prozac during her pregnancy. She was given these antipsychotics after she was not able to sleep to sleep for almost a week and a half. The Dr.'s diagnosed her as bipolar. We believe she was miss diagnosed due to her severe loss of sleep. Does anybody know of any relations between ASD and seroquel/Prozac?

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