Study Links Use of Antidepressants to Autism

A new study published by the Archives of General Psychology has revealed a link between the use of antidepressants during pregnancy and autism. This news is especially concerning given the fact that use of antidepressants, or SSRIs, during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of other serious birth defects, including life-threatening heart defects and developmental malformations.

The study, which was conducted by the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente, was prompted after researchers noticed a rise in the use of SSRIs and an increased number of autism diagnoses. The study compared 298 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and 1,507 randomly selected children and their mothers. Result from the study revealed a 2-fold increased risk for ASD among mothers who used an SSRI during the year before delivery and a 3-fold increased risk when SSRIs were taken in the first trimester of pregnancy.

According to the study’s lead Author, Lisa A. Croen, PhD, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser, “The potential association between use of antidepressants during pregnancy and risk of ASDs has never been investigated before.” Dr. Croen went on to note that the results of the study “should be interpreted with extreme caution,” as further studies are needed to determine the true association between ASD and pre-natal SSRI use.

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