Oct 18th 2023
Antipsychotics are primarily prescribed for the treatment of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and, at times, bipolar disorder.
They are proven to be effective at managing psychotic symptoms and can minimize the disruption your psychotic disorder causes in your life, providing you satisfy the requirements of your doctor’s physical examination for prescription.
But what if you’re pregnant? As prospective new parents, you want to ensure that both mother and child remain safe and healthy throughout the pregnancy. This article will assess the risks and benefits of using antipsychotics when pregnant.
Whilst it’s worth keeping these risks in mind, it is important to underline the potential benefits of antipsychotic treatment during pregnancy: 
Ultimately, we are not certain whether antipsychotic use during pregnancy is 100% safe. 
However, the risks of not treating two of the most prominent mental disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, during an affected person’s pregnancy are significant. 
Potential pregnancy complications include placental abnormalities, antepartum hemorrhage, prematurity, pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, fetal distress, neonatal hypoglycemia, low Apgar score, stillbirth, and congenital defects. 
Additionally, concerns can be raised about the parenting and long-term development of a child if their mother does not undergo treatment for a psychotic disorder. 
The decision to use antipsychotic medication during pregnancy should always be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. Balancing the potential risks and benefits is crucial, as both the well-being of the pregnant person and the potential impact on the developing fetus need to be considered.
Some antipsychotic medications can increase the level of a hormone called prolactin which can make it harder for a person to get pregnant.  Your doctor will typically monitor your prolactin levels during your course of antipsychotic medication.
If you are taking antipsychotics and struggling to get pregnant, your doctor may switch you onto a different antipsychotic that is less likely to increase prolactin levels, such as aripiprazole, olanzapine, or quetiapine. 
Largely, studies focusing on 10,000 or more participants have found no overall increased risk of birth defects in pregnant women who use antipsychotic medication. 
One study suggests that there might be a slightly increased risk of certain birth defects associated with the antipsychotic medication, risperidone, during pregnancy.  However, the risk appears to be relatively small, and the exact risks can vary depending on the specific medication, the dosage, the timing of exposure during pregnancy, and individual factors.
If you are taking risperidone, consult a specialized healthcare provider, such as a perinatal psychiatrist, for advice. 
Roughly one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage irrespective of any medication a woman has taken. The relationship between antipsychotics and miscarriage is not fully understood, but the information we have indicates that antipsychotics do not increase the risk of miscarriage. However, we need more information to be certain. 
Our Medical Affairs Team is a dedicated group of medical professionals with diverse and extensive clinical experience who actively contribute to the development of our content, products, and services. They meticulously evaluate and review all medical content before publication to ensure it is medically accurate and aligned with current discussions and research developments in mental health. For more information, visit our Editorial Policy.
MentalHealth.com is a patient-first health technology company driven by its mission to make optimal mental health attainable for everyone. With a focus on expanding care access, empowering patient choice, and enhancing care quality, the company delivers innovative solutions that support individuals throughout their mental health journey.