The risk of developing gestational diabetes is significantly higher in women who take antipsychotic drugs during pregnancy, according to the findings of a new Swedish study.
Antipsychotics are used to treat severe >mental illnessesbipolar disorder and schizophrenia. To shed more light on the potential risks of their use during pregnancy, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden analysed medical records of women who gave birth in the country between July 2005 and December 2009.
Of the women examined, 357,696 had no prescriptions for antipsychotics, while 169 women had prescriptions for the antipsychotics olanzapine and/or clozapine, and 338 were on other antipsychotic medications .
The team found that gestational diabetes was “more than twice as common” in mothers who used antipsychotics than in the overall population of pregnant women (4.1 per cent for those prescribed olanzapine and/or clozapine and 4.4 per cent for those given other antipsychotics, versus 1.7 per cent of the total population).
In addition, women who took antipsychotics during pregnancy were initially found to be at higher risk of having babies who were small for gestational age (SGA) compared to those who took none. But after adjusting for maternal factors, including smoking, the researchers said the increase in risk was no longer significant.
“In conclusio, maternal use of antipsychotics during pregnancy, regardless of the drug group, is associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes,” the authors commented, adding that pregnant women treated with antipsychotics “should be closely monitored for gestational diabetes and deviating fetal growth”.
The research was published yesterday in Archives of General Psychiatry.

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