Treatment-emergent adverse events from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors by age group: Children versus adolescents

Daniel J. Safer, Julie Magno Zito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to report the frequency of common treatment-emergent adverse events (AEs) from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in children, adolescents, and adults. Method: AE data were obtained from all published double-blind, placebo-controlled SSRI studies of children and adolescents that separated AE findings by age group. The AE findings were pooled for purposes of age-group comparisons. Double-blind, placebo-controlled SSRI studies of adolescents (n = 2) and of adults identified in systematically identified trials (n = 22) were assessed to compare patterns and rates across the age span. Other reports, primarily from the published SSRI literature, were added to clarify the findings presented. Results: Activation and vomiting SSRI AEs were 2- to 3-fold more prevalent in children than in adolescents, and their rate was lowest in adults. Somnolence as a SSRI AE was uncommon in children; its rate increased with advancing age. Insomnia and nausea were common SSRI AEs across the age span. Activation AEs were a frequent reason for discontinuation from SSRI clinical trials in preadolescents, whereas somnolence, nausea, and insomnia AEs were the most common reasons for trial discontinuations in adults. Conclusions: Children are particularly vulnerable to specific AEs from certain medications, such as SSRIs. It is likely that the level of children's biological immaturity explains part of this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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