Use Of Sertraline, Paroxetine And Fluvoxamine By Nursing Women
B R I T I S H J O U R N A L O F P S YC H I AT RY ( 2 0 0 1 ) , 1 7 9 , 1 6 3 ^ 1 6 6
Use of sertraline, paroxetine and fluvoxamine following a fixed dose of antidepressant.
For women who took the antidepressant
during pregnancy, maternal and infant
by nursing women serum samples were obtained a minimum
of 2 weeks following delivery. Serum
VICTORIA HENDRICK, ALAN FUKUCHI, LORI ALTSHULER, MEL WIDAWSKI,
samples were obtained from a total of 50
AMY WERTHEIMER and MARTINA V. BRUNHUBER infants and 48 mothers.
Detection of antidepressant
concentrations in serum
The detection of sertraline, desmethyl-
Background The pharmacological When new mothers experience depression, sertraline, paroxetine and fluvoxamine in
they and their clinicians need to know if serum was accomplished via an isocratic
treatment of depression in nursing women
antidepressant medications are safe to use high-performance liquid chromatography
requires information on the magnitude of (HPLC) separation followed by ultraviolet
while breast-feeding. Several recent reports
medication exposure totheinfantthat may have examined the extent of exposure that detection at 225 nm. The concentration of
occur through breast milk. occurs to nursing infants whose mothers each drug (sertraline, desmethylsertraline,
take antidepressants (e.g. Altshuler et al,al, paroxetine or fluvoxamine) in the samples
Aims To examine serum concentrations 1995; Taddio et al, 1996; Mammen et al,
al, al, was calculated from its peak area ratios
of antidepressants in infants exposed to 1997; Stowe et al, 1997; Yoshida et al,
al, al, by using the slope and intercept of the
1997; Wisner et al, 1998; Begg et al,
al, al, appropriate calibration curve. The assays
these medications through breast-feeding.
1999; Birnbaum et al, 1999; Kristensen et
al, had a lower limit of sensitivity of 1 ng/ml,
Method Maternal and infant serum al, 1999; Ohman et al, 1999; Stowe et al,
al, al, al, defined by a signal-to-noise ratio of 7 for
2000). However, the research literature each drug.
concentrations of sertraline, paroxetine
has consisted largely of single cases or small
and fluvoxamine were determined with
studies, and methodological differences Statistical analysis
high-performance liquid chromatography have limited the information that can be
(limit of detection1 ng/ml).
detection 1 The LIFEREG Procedure using SAS soft-
drawn from them (Yoshida et al, 1999).
ware was used to perform a Tobit analysis
To expand this literature, we present
Results No detectable medication was on the data. The Tobit model is a regression
measurements of maternal and infant
model for left-censored data, assuming a
present in any infant exposed to serum concentrations in 50 nursing
normal distributed error term. The model
paroxetine (n16) or fluvoxamine (n4).
(n 16) (n 4). mother±infant pairs in which the mothers
parameters are estimated by maximum
Among infants exposed to sertraline took therapeutic doses of sertraline,
likelihood. A w2 test was used to explore
paroxetine or fluvoxamine.
(n30), detectable medication was
30), whether nursing infants whose mothers
present in 24% of serum samples. A took higher daily doses of sertraline
METHOD (100 mg or more) were more likely to
significant negative correlation was found
have detectable serum concentrations of
between infant age and infant serum Fifty nursing mother±infant pairs who pre- medication, as compared with infants of
concentration. Sertraline was significantly sented to UCLA's Pregnancy and Post- women who took lower doses.
more likely to be detectedin aninfantifthe partum Mood Disorders Program were
included in the study. The women were
mother's daily dose was100 mg or higher. RESULTS
Caucasian (n46), Hispanic (n3) and
(n 46), (n 3)
No adverse sequelae occurred in any Asian (n1), in good physical health,
infant. ranging in age from 24 to 41 years old Results of the serum assays for the mother±
and on standard doses of antidepressant infant pairs are shown in Table 1. Infant
Conclusions This study shows that medication, taken once daily for treatment ages ranged from 2 to 60 weeks and
paroxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline of major depression. Two women addition- weights ranged from 3 to 10 kg at the time
ally were on nortriptyline and another was of the serum assays.
produce minimal exposure to infants when
on alprazolam. None of the infants was on No detectable medication was present
taken by nursing mothers. in any infant exposed to paroxetine or
medications of any category. Seventeen
women were on antidepressants during fluvoxamine. Detectable medication (parent
Declaration of interest This study and/or metabolite) was present in 24%
pregnancy as well as nursing. Written
was supported by the National Institute of (8/33) of the serum samples obtained from
informed consent was obtained from each
Mental Health, SmithKline Beecham and mother for collection of serum samples. infants exposed to sertraline. Concentra-
Pfizer. tions of sertraline and desmethylsertraline,
when present, were 2±8 and 2±12 ng/ml,
Sample collection respectively.
Maternal and infant serum samples were Four mothers (nos 5, 16, 24 and 49)
obtained at a minimum of 2 weeks titrated their dose of the antidepressant
S E R T R A L I N E , PA R OX E T IN E A ND F LU VOX A M IN E I N NU R S I N G WO M E N
IN ROX IN ND IN IN
upwards to help their mood and obtained
repeat serum samples on themselves and
their infants after being on the higher
medication dosage for at least 1 week. & This study found that the use of fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline by nursing
Maternal dosage of sertraline corre-
women produces minimal medication exposure to the infants.
lated highly with infant serum concentration
of desmethylsertraline after controlling for & The presence of low detectable serum concentrations of medication was not
infant age, gestational exposure and associated with adverse effects in the infants.
breast-feeding exposure (parameter esti-
mate0.09, d.f.1, P0.03). Maternal
mate 0.09, d.f. 1, 0.03).
& Maternal serum concentrations and dosage of medication can be employed to
serum concentrations of sertraline and estimate infant serum concentrations.
desmethylsertraline correlated highly with
infant serum concentration of desmethyl-
sertraline (parameter estimate0.20, d.f.1,
estimate 0.20, d.f. 1, & Use of maternal reports rather than paediatric examinations in assessing for
P50.001 and parameter estimate0.07,
potential medication-related adverse events in the infants.
d.f.1, P0.008, respectively) after con-
d.f. 1, 0.008,
trolling for infant age, gestational exposure & Single serum measurement of medication in the mother^infant pairs.
and breast-feeding exposure. This analysis
used all the available maternal and infant
& Lack of evaluation of infants' long-term outcomes associated with their early
serum samples shown in Table 1. exposure to antidepressant medications.
A significant negative correlation was
found between infant age and infant serum
concentration of desmethylsertraline after
controlling for maternal dosage, gestational
exposure and breast-feeding exposure (para- VICTORIA HENDRICK, MD, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, Los Angeles, California; ALAN
meter estimate71.46, d.f.1, P0.002).
estimate 7 d.f. 1, 0.002). FUKUCHI, MT(ASCP), Clinical Laboratory, UCLA Center for Health Sciences, Los Angeles, California; LORI
ALTSHULER, MD, MELWIDAWSKI, PhD,UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital and West L.A.Veterans
Among women who breast-fed fully, the
Administration Medical Center, Los Angeles, California; AMY WERTHEIMER, BA, MARTINA V. BRUNHUBER,
likelihood of their infants having a detect- MA, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, Los Angeles, California,USA
able level of medication (sertraline or des-
methylsertraline) was significantly higher Correspondence: Dr Victoria Hendrick, Department of Psychiatry,UCLA, 300 Medical Plaza, Suite
if their dose was 100 mg or more (w2 (w 2345, Los Angeles,CA 90095,USA
6.81, d.f.1, P0.009).
d.f. 1, 0.009).
(First received 22 November 2000, final revision 15 March 2001, accepted 15 March 2001)
Mothers were questioned about poten-
tial adverse sequelae to their infants and
did not report any such findings. Specific
enquiries were made regarding gastro-
intestinal symptoms (e.g. vomiting, watery more likely to produce detectable concen- taken in the post-partum period (e.g. anti-
stool), lethargy, changes in sleep patterns trations in the infant. A significant negative histamines, decongestants, pain medi-
and easy bruising. None of the women in correlation emerged between infant age and cations) should be kept to a minimum
the study was on other medications and serum concentration of desmethyl- until more is known about whether such
the infants were in good health. sertraline. combinations are safe for the nursing infant
This study's findings suggest that (Mitchell, 1999).
paroxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline are
DISCUSSION reasonable choices for nursing women ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
requiring treatment for depression. In
This study found that serum concentrations comparison with fluoxetine, these medi- This project was supported by grant no. MH01451-
of medication were undetectable in all in- cations appear to produce less exposure to 01 from the National Institute of Mental Health,
fants exposed to paroxetine or fluvoxamine nursing infants and have not been linked Bethesda, Maryland. Preparation of this report was
supported in part by SmithKline Beecham and
and in the majority of infants exposed to with the adverse events of neonatal irrit-
sertraline while nursing. When medication ability, sleep disturbance and poor feeding
was present in the sertraline-exposed in- that have been reported in association with
fants, it was usually in the form of the fluoxetine exposure through breast-feeding REFERENCES
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