It is presumed that pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment of prenatal common mental disorders can mitigate associated adverse effects in offspring, yet strong evidence for the prophylactic benefits of treatment is lacking. We therefore examined the effect of prenatal treatments for common mental disorders on offspring outcomes.
For this meta-analysis, articles published up to August 31, 2017, were obtained from PubMed, PsycInfo, Embase, and Cochrane databases. Included studies needed to be randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effect of treatment of prenatal common mental disorders comparing an intervention to a control condition, including offspring outcome(s). Random effects models were used to calculate Hedges' g in the program Comprehensive Meta-Analysis<sup>©</sup> (version 3.0).
Sixteen randomized controlled trials among 2778 pregnant women compared offspring outcomes between prenatal interventions and control groups. There were zero pharmacological, 13 psychological, and three other interventions (homeopathy, relaxation interventions, and short psycho-education). Birth weight (mean difference 42.88 g, g = 0.08, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.22, p = 0.27, n = 11), Apgar scores (g = 0.13, 95% CI -0.28 to 0.54, p = 0.53, n = 4), and gestational age (g = 0.03, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.54, p = 0.49, n = 10) were not significantly affected. Other offspring outcomes could not be meta-analyzed due to the inconsistent reporting of offspring outcomes and an insufficient number of studies.
Non-pharmacological interventions had no significant effect on birth outcomes, although this outcome should be considered with caution due to the risk of biases. No randomized controlled trial examined the effects of prenatal pharmacological treatments as compared to treatment as usual for common mental disorders on offspring outcomes. Present clinical guidelines may require more research evidence on offspring outcomes, including child development, in order to warrant the current recommendation to routinely screen and subsequently treat prenatal common mental disorders.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s).
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