UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Alterations in resting state networks following in utero SSRI exposure in the neonatal brain Rotem‐Kohavi, Naama; Williams, Lynne J.; Virji‐Babul, Naznin; Bjornson, Bruce H.; Brain, Ursula; Werker, Janet Feldman, 1951-; Grunau, Ruth E.; Miller, Steven P.; Oberlander, Tim F.


Background: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat depression during pregnancy. SSRIs cross the placenta, inhibit serotonin (5HT) reuptake, thereby altering central fetal 5HT signaling. Both prenatal maternal mood disturbances and in utero SSRIs have been associated with altered fetal and infant behavior. Advances in resting-state (rs)fMRI have identified resting-state networks (RSNs) in newborns reflecting functional capacity of auditory and visual networks providing opportunities to examine the impact of early experience on neurodevelopment. We sought to examine the effect of in utero SSRI exposure on neonatal RSN functional organization, accounting for prenatal maternal mood symptoms. We hypothesized that prenatal SSRI-exposure would affect neonatal RSN development independent of prenatal maternal mood disturbances. Methods: Non-exposed (n = 33) and SSRI-exposed (n = 20) 6-day-old neonates underwent (rs)fMRI scan. Clinician-rated, maternal prenatal mood (Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression (HAM-D) and self-report Pregnancy Experiences Scale (PES) were completed during third trimester. Independent component analysis (ICA) was used to extract twenty-two RSNs. Results: SSRI-exposed neonates had higher blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal in auditory RSN compared with non-exposed neonates, P=0.033 (corrected for multiple comparisons), controlling for maternal mood disturbances and self-reported pregnancy experiences. Conclusions: Increased functional connectivity in auditory RSN in neonates with in utero SSRI exposure, independent of maternal mood disturbances and pregnancy negative experiences, may offer an insight into the functional organization origins of shifts in language perception and altered language development previously reported in infants and children with prenatal SSRI exposure.

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