Treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) has been associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, but causality remains unclear. While placental CRH production is correlated with gestational length and preterm birth, it has been difficult to establish if psychological stress or mental health problems are associated with increased CRH levels. This study compared second trimester CRH serum concentrations in pregnant women on SSRI treatment (n=207) with untreated depressed women (n=56) and controls (n=609). A secondary aim was to investigate the combined effect of SSRI treatment and CRH levels on gestational length and risk for preterm birth. Women on SSRI treatment had significantly higher second trimester CRH levels than controls, and untreated depressed women. CRH levels and SSRI treatment were independently associated with shorter gestational length. The combined effect of SSRI treatment and high CRH levels yielded the highest risk estimate for preterm birth. SSRI treatment during pregnancy is associated with increased CRH levels. However, the elevated risk for preterm birth in SSRI users appear not to be mediated by increased placental CRH production, instead CRH appear as an independent risk factor for shorter gestational length and preterm birth.
- Corticotropin releasing hormone
- gestational length
- Preterm birth
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitor