Pamela Kling expands study of SSRIs and beta blocker use during pregnancy

Pamela Kling
Pamela Kling, MD

Pamela Kling, MD, professor, Neonatology and Newborn Nursery, received a $13,524 one-year award from the UnityPoint Health–Meriter Foundation for her project, “SSRI exposure during gestation: Earlier birth, low birth weight or small for gestational age (SGA).” The goal of this retrospective multiple cohort dataset analysis is to examine fetal growth after concurrent selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, and beta blocker administration. Approximately five years of UnityPoint Health–Meriter’s data – a web-based comprehensive perinatal database – will be evaluated, analyzing birth gestational age, birth growth percentiles, and different definitions of SGA in both term and pre-term births.

Depression and anxiety are common in pregnancy, with 10% treated with SSRIs. Preexisting maternal hypertension and preeclampsia in pregnancy is commonly treated with beta blockers. Both SSRIs and beta blockers cross the placenta, and both may independently slow fetal growth. However, the combination has not been studied. Epidemiological literature both supports and refutes that SSRIs promote fetal growth restriction and SGA. Understanding the etiology of SGA is significant because it may impact risks for lifelong vascular health and neurocognitive development. This study is an expansion of a current quality/program improvement project to study concurrent SSRI and beta blocker use during pregnancy with the overall goal to prevent complications in SGA babies.