California: Child Autism Linked To Anti-Depressant Use By Pregnant Women: Research

5 Jul

Pregnant women who take antidepressants may be putting their baby at a higher risk of developing an autism-related disorder, experts saidEnlarge Photo

Pregnant women who take antidepressants may be putting their baby at a higher risk …

Children whose mothers take some anti-depressants during pregnancy could be twice as likely to have an autism-related disorder than youngsters not exposed to the drugs, a new study suggests.

The research, conducted in California, found a type of anti-depressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – could be risky if used during pregnancy.

Scientists reported a two-fold increase of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children whose mothers were treated with SSRIs a year before they gave birth.

The strongest effect was found when the mother took the anti-depressants during their first trimester of pregnancy, according to the study of 1,805 children.

The research, which appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry, included 298 children with a diagnosed ASD.

However, the researchers warned that the number of children exposed pre-natally to SSRIs was low.

Lead author of the study, Lisa Croen, the director of autism research at Kaiser Permanente – a healthcare provider based in northern California – said: “Our results suggest a possible, albeit small, risk to the unborn child associated with in utero exposure to SSRIs, but this possible risk must be balanced with risk to the mother of untreated mental health disorders.”

Ms Croen added that further studies were needed to replicate and validate the results.

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