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Open Access Research article

Patterns of psychotropic medicine use in pregnancy in the United States from 2006 to 2011 among women with private insurance

Gillian E Hanley12 and Barbara Mintzes13*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Child & Family Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Therapeutics Initiative, University of British Columbia, #307, 2176 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:242  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-242

Published: 22 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Psychiatric disorders are equally common during pregnancy as among non-pregnant women, and many of these conditions are treated with psychotropic medicines. Relatively little is known about patterns of use of many these agents during pregnancy, and specifically of how rates may have shifted during the last decade. We aimed to quantify the rate of pregnancy related exposures to categories of psychotropic medicines stratified according to the primary indication for use (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and psychostimulants), trimester of pregnancy, trends over time and region, and indication for use.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort study of pregnancies among women in the Truven Health MarketScan database (source population 70 million Americans), which captures person-specific clinical use and includes detailed information on filled prescriptions, hospitalizations and outpatient visits for all privately insured employees and their dependents. We classified psychotropic medicines of interest using ATC level 3 accordingly: antipsychotics (N05A); anxiolytics (N05B); antidepressants (N06A); psychostimulants, agents used for ADHD and cognitive enhancement (N06B). We also examined temporal and regional trends in use.

Results

We included 343,299 women who had a live birth between Jan 1, 2006 and Dec 31, 2011, of whom 10.3% were dispensed one or more psychotropic medicines during pregnancy. This rate varied from 6% to 15% between states. The rate of use of psychotropic medicines was relatively stable between 2006 and 2011. The most commonly used psychotropic medicines were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (5.1%) and benzodiazepine or benzodiazepine-like medicines (3.9%). Among psychotropic users, the most commonly associated psychiatric diagnosis was depression (25.0%), followed by anxiety disorders (24.4%). Approximately 1.6% of women used more than one category of psychotropic medicine in pregnancy, most commonly an antidepressant and an anxiolytic medicine (1.2%).

Conclusions

Given this relatively high rate of use, the lack of evidence that the most frequently used medications improve birth outcomes and the safety concerns associated with both early and late pregnancy use for many frequently-used medications, there is a need for further study of factors driving psychotropic medication use during pregnancy.

Keywords:
Pregnancy; Prescription drugs; Psychiatric conditions in pregnancy; Psychotropic medicines; Administrative data; Depression; Anxiety