Women who use certain antipsychotic drugs during their pregnancy could be at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, according to a study.
These medications are used to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.
Among five antipsychotic drugs reviewed in the study, two of these, olanzapine (marketed as Zyprexa) and quetiapine (marketed as Seroquel) were associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes compared to those who stopped their medication through the first half of their pregnancy.
If you are on one of these drugs, do not stop taking your medication unless you have your doctor’s support.
The researchers note that the increase in risk is relatively small and that their findings present a chance for doctors and patients to discuss the pros and cons of sticking with the medication or switching to a medication with a lower risk of gestational diabetes.
The findings of the study showed that women who continued to take olanzapine (Zyprexa) through the first half of pregnancy had a 61% increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who took quetiapine (Seroquel) had a 28% increased risk over the same period.
Gestational diabetes develops when the expectant mother has high blood sugar levels during her pregnancy. It can develop at any stage during pregnancy and usually goes once the baby has been born. However, the condition can lead to birthing complications, so must be managed correctly.
The study included data from 1,543,334 pregnancies. Of those, 10,399 women were taking the following antipsychotic drugs; aripiprazole, ziprasidone, quetiapine, risperidone or olanzapine.
The study authors wrote: “We did not observe a difference in the risk for gestational diabetes when comparing women who continued treatment with aripiprazole, ziprasidone, and risperidone with women who discontinued treatment with these antipsychotics.”
The researchers note that the increase risk of gestational diabetes observed for olanzapine and quetiapine could be down to metabolic effects of the drugs. However, they added that: “Further studies are needed in order to understand the potential effect of switching antipsychotic agents during pregnancy on the risk for gestational diabetes.”
The research has been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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