Tags: antidepressants | autism | study

Antidepressants Autism Study Finds Link to Pregnant Women

Image: Antidepressants Autism Study Finds Link to Pregnant Women

A woman takes the antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine. (REUTERS/Darren Staples)

By    |   Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015 07:40 AM

Autism is more prevalent in children whose mothers took antidepressants during their last six months of pregnancy, a new study has found.

According to NBC News, the study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, points to one class of antidepressants in particular: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), including Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. 

"Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of autism spectrum disease in children, even after considering maternal depression," Anick Berard of the University of Montreal and colleagues wrote.

By the numbers, taking SSRIs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of an autism spectrum disorder in children, the study found.

The New York Times explained that while the increase in percentage may sound huge, the absolute increase in autism spectrum diagnoses remain low.

"That headline-provoking number represents a relatively large associated increase in what begins as a small number: Among the pregnancies studied, the rate of diagnosis of autism rose from less than 1 percent to less than 2 percent of children when the mothers were taking antidepressants," the Times explained.

Overall, the rate of autism increased among the studied group from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent.

The study took into account a population of 145,456 kids in Quebec, born between 1998 and 2009.

"We’re not the first paper on this topic, but we’re the first one with such a large sample size," said Berard, who also disclosed in the paper consultant work for plaintiffs in litigation involving antidepressants and birth defects.

Across the U.S., roughly 2.2 percent of children ages 3 to 17 have autism. That amounts to roughly 1 in 45 children across the population.

As the Times summed it up: "The pros and cons of taking antidepressants while pregnant have been hotly debated despite increasing research in the field. Each time one study highlights negative outcomes associated with antidepressant use during pregnancy, another study is published pointing toward the benefits for mother and baby. For any woman considering pregnancy and in need of antidepressants, deciding on a course of action can be agonizing."

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Autism is more prevalent in children whose mothers took antidepressants during their last six months of pregnancy, a new study has found.
antidepressants, autism, study
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2015-40-15
Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015 07:40 AM
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