The Swedish study of more than 1.6 million births in five Nordic countries included nearly 30,000 women who had filled in a prescription for an SSRI (selective serotonin re uptake inhibitor) during pregnancy.
The researchers found that the 1.79 percent of mothers exposed to an SSRI had higher rates of stillbirth (4.62 versus 3.69 per 1,000) and post neonatal death (1.38 versus 0.96 per 1,000) than those who did not.
But the slightly higher rates were attributed to the severity of the underlying psychiatric disease -- usually depression -- rather than its treatment.
Cigarette smoking and the mother's advanced age were also linked to higher deaths. Mothers exposed to an SSRI and those who were not had a similar rate of neonatal death (2.54 versus 2.21 per 1000).
Among the total surveyed group there were 1,633,877 single births, 6,054 stillbirths, 3,609 neonatal deaths and 1,578 post neonatal deaths.
The study "suggests that SSRI use during pregnancy was not associated with increased risks of stillbirth, neonatal death, or post neonatal death," said authors of the research led by Olof Stephansson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
"However, decisions regarding use of SSRIs during pregnancy must take into account other perinatal outcomes and the risks associated with maternal mental illness," they said.