Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Autism Women who take antidepressant medications during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy may have an 87-percent increased risk of having a child eventually diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to new research. Studying more than 145,000 children from their conception to age 10 through data from the Quebec ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2016
Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Autism
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2016
Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Autism
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.21032016.12
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.21032016.12
Women who take antidepressant medications during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy may have an 87-percent increased risk of having a child eventually diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to new research.
Studying more than 145,000 children from their conception to age 10 through data from the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort, University of Montreal pharmacy professor Anick Bérard found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, known as SSRIs, are especially associated with an increase in the chances of an autism diagnosis. The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.
“The variety of causes of autism remain unclear, but studies have shown that both genetics and environment can play a role,” says Bérard. “Our study has established that taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy almost doubles the risk that the child will be diagnosed with autism by age 7.”
After controlling for genetic predisposition and socio-economic factors, as well as maternal age and depression, Bérard and her team found 1,054 children in their participant pool were diagnosed with ASD by an average age of 4.5 years.
Speculating on the potential link between antidepressants and autism, Bérard says, “Serotonin is involved in numerous pre- and postnatal developmental processes, including cell division, the migration of neurons, cell differentiation and synaptogenesis—the creation of links between brain cells.” She suggests that future research focus on specific antidepressant types and dosages.
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March 2016
Volume 21, Issue 3