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Early Brain Development Following Prenatal Exposure to SSRI Antidepressants and Maternal Depression

Principal Investigator:
  • Kayleigh Campbell, BCCHR
  • University of British Columbia

Project Overview

Many women experience depression during pregnancy, and are often faced with challenging decisions surrounding antidepressant use during this critical time for their developing child. Fetal exposure to maternal antidepressant use is poorly understood, and further, the effects are often left undistinguished from those following exposure to untreated maternal depression. This project has two goals: (1) to determine the effects of antidepressant exposure during pregnancy on the developing brain in early life, and (2) to distinguish these effects from those of exposure to depressed maternal mood. Using non-invasive brain imaging techniques, Kayleigh Campbell will compare measures of brain development for antidepressant-exposed, depression-exposed, and non-exposed infants, first during the third-trimester of pregnancy and again within the first week after birth. She will also study how these adverse early life exposures influence fetal and newborn behaviour. This work will provide new insight on early brain development, improve our understanding of developmental risk and resiliency, and help shape future management of maternal mental health and child outcome.