About one third of infants born to mothers who use Zoloft or similar antidepressants during pregnancy show signs of drug withdrawal, and mothers report greater levels of anxiety in toddlers who were exposed to the drug as fetuses, according to professionals working with the infants. The effects of antidepressants in a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are still being researched.
Canadian physician Tim Oberlander is currently conducting a study of children who were exposed to an SSRI such as Zoloft from birth until age 6. So far, Oberlander has found that children who were exposed to the drugs are more likely to be cranky, trembling and have trouble feeding immediately after birth. Mothers of the children also reported unusually anxious behavior at age 3.
Zoloft has been linked to an increased risk of several severe birth defects in children born to women who use the drugs during pregnancy. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that women who use the drug are six times more likely to give birth to a child with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Other side effects include septal defects and other congenital birth defects.