NARSAD Grant-funded Research Assesses Risk of Antipsychotics in Pregnancy

Katrina C. Johnson, Ph.D.,clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University.
Katrina C. Johnson, Ph.D.

Babies who have been exposed to antipsychotics during pregnancy have been shown to have abnormal neuromotor performance according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study was led by Katrina Johnson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University. Dr. Johnson received a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in 2010 for this work.  

Dr. Johnson and her colleagues examined the association of prenatal exposure to antipsychotics, antidepressants and maternal psychiatric illness in 6-month-old infants with adverse neuromotor and attentional outcomes. They conducted a prospective controlled study from December 1999 through June 2008 by examining 309 mother-infant pairs at six months postpartum with pregnancy exposure to antipsychotics (22), antidepressants (202) or no psychotropic agents (85). "The results from the current study show that 6-month-old infants exposed prenatally to an antipsychotic demonstrated significantly lower scores on a standardized neuromotor screening measure compared with both antidepressant-exposed infants and infants with no psychotropic exposure. Only 19 percent of infants prenatally exposed to an antipsychotic demonstrated normal neuromotor performance," the authors commented.

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