Study links Antidepressants with High Autism Risk

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An Interesting Study

A very interesting study has just been released that suggests that being exposed to antidepressants in the womb leads to a higher risk of autism in boys. In fact, boys with autism were three times more likely to have been exposed to antidepressants known as SSRIs in the womb than typically developing children, according to this new research. The research also showed that boys whose mothers took SSRI’s during pregnancy (drugs including Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft) were also much more likely to have developmental delays. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

The Risks

The study, published in the May issue of Pediatrics, is very interesting and points to a connection related to autism risk that might not have been considered before. “We found prenatal SSRI exposure was almost three times as likely in boys with autism spectrum disorders relative to typical development, with the greatest risk when exposure is during the first trimester,” said study co-author Li-Ching Lee, an associate scientist in the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

A Difficult Decision

Of course, while there may be a risk of autism associated with taking SSRI’s during pregnancy, it is important to remember that untreated depression during pregnancy is also a concern for both mother and unborn baby. The decision on whether or not to treat depression during pregnancy is a very complex one, and one that a pregnant women should definitely make with her doctor and not on her own. “It’s a complex decision whether to treat or not treat depression with medications during pregnancy,” Lee said. “There are so many factors to consider. We didn’t intend for our study to be used as a basis for clinical treatment decisions. Women should talk with their doctors about SSRI treatments.”

What To Remember

There have been several studies done in the past few years about the risks associated with use of SSRI drugs during pregnancy. These drugs cross the placenta, increasing the serotonin levels of not only the mother, but the baby as well. About one in three children with autism has higher than normal serotonin levels, so there is definitely a connection there. However, there have been several different studies done on SSRI use during pregnancy and they all have conflicting findings. It is hard to really pinpoint the effect that taking SSRI’s during pregnancy will have on a child, especially since the effects usually do not show up until much later, during early childhood. Always talk to your doctor if you have a questions about whether or not you should be using SSRI’s or any other medications during your pregnancy.

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Dr. Renee Hanton, MD
Dr. Renee Hanton, MD | ConceiveEasy
Dr. Renee Hanton is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Dr. Hanton specializes in the endocrine causes of infertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)