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Serotonin and poor neonatal adaptation after antidepressant exposure in utero

  • Noera Kieviet (a1), Vera van Keulen (a1), Peter Marinus van de Ven (a2), Koert Melchior Dolman (a1), Martine Deckers (a3) and Adriaan Honig (a4) (a5)...



Infants exposed to selective antidepressants (SADs) in utero are at risk to develop poor neonatal adaptation (PNA) postpartum. As symptoms are non-specific and the aetiology of PNA is unknown, the diagnostic process is hampered. We hypothesised that the serotonin metabolism plays a role in the aetiology of PNA.


In this controlled study, infants admitted postpartum from February 2012 to August 2013 were included and followed for 3 days. Infants exposed to SADs during at least the last 2 weeks of fetal life were included in the patient group (n=63). Infants not exposed to psychotropic medication and admitted postpartum for another reason were included in the control group (n=126). The neonatal urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetid acid (5-HIAA) levels of SAD-exposed infants who developed PNA, SAD-exposed infants who did not develop PNA and control infants were compared.


The course of the 5-HIAA levels over the first 3 days postpartum differed between infants with and without PNA (p≤0.001) with higher 5-HIAA levels in infants with PNA on day 1 (2.42 mmol/mol, p=0.001). Presence of maternal psychological distress modified this relationship.


A transient disturbance of the neonatal serotonergic system may play a role in the aetiology of PNA. Other factors, including the presence of maternal psychological distress, also seem to play a role.


Corresponding author

Dr. Noera Kieviet, OLVG West, Department of Pediatrics, Jan Tooropstraat 164, 1061 AE Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 20 510 8790; Fax :+31 20 685 3059; E-mail:


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Serotonin and poor neonatal adaptation after antidepressant exposure in utero

  • Noera Kieviet (a1), Vera van Keulen (a1), Peter Marinus van de Ven (a2), Koert Melchior Dolman (a1), Martine Deckers (a3) and Adriaan Honig (a4) (a5)...


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