Mothers who take certain antidepressants while pregnant have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a new study suggests.
In the study – published December 14 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics – the researchers found that study participants who took a certain type of antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), while in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy were about 87 percent more likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder, compared with those who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes conditions such as pervasive developmental disorders, Asperger syndrome or autism.
Anick Berard, author of the study and a professor of pharmacy at the University of Montreal, who specializes in drug use during pregnancy, said that taking antidepressants (SSRIs) is especially dangerous during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Some of these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa.
According to Berard, depression in mothers to be was linked to a 20 percent increased risk of having a child with autism. Women who took more than one class of antidepressants were also four times more prone to having a child with autism, the researchers found.
Dr. Bryan King, a child psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said that autistic spectrum disorders are more common in children nowadays, which led some researchers to look for environmental factors.
In the new study, the researchers looked at data on about 145,000 pregnancies in Quebec, Canada’s largest province, which occurred from 1998 to 2009. All of those pregnancies resulted in the birth of only one baby.
The children were followed until the age of 10; the researchers found that 1,054 of them had an autism spectrum disorder.
About 3.2 percent of the infants (or 4,700) had been exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors at some point during their moms’ pregnancies, according to the researchers. Almost half of those babies were diagnosed with autism.
Greater risk of autism in children occurred when the mothers took antidepressants during the second or third trimester. When they used SSRIs during early pregnancy there was no increase in the risk of autism spectrum disorder, Berard said.
Berard advises pregnant women who do not suffer from severe depression to get psychotherapy and exercise, instead of taking antidepressants.
Image Source: onsugar