Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Linked to Language Disorders in Children Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) taken during pregnancy may be associated with a higher risk of language disorders in children, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Columbia University researchers found that children of mothers who took SSRIs while pregnant have a 37 percent higher risk ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2017
Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Linked to Language Disorders in Children
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Language Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2017
Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Linked to Language Disorders in Children
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22012017.16
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22012017.16
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) taken during pregnancy may be associated with a higher risk of language disorders in children, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Columbia University researchers found that children of mothers who took SSRIs while pregnant have a 37 percent higher risk of developing speech-language disorders than children of mothers who have depression but are not taking SSRIs. However, the researchers note that while the overall effect is significant at a population level, the individual-scale risk is small (a 1-percent risk in depressed but unmedicated pregnant women and a 1.37-percent risk in pregnant women who took SSRIs).

The researchers note that while the overall effect is significant at a population level, the individual-scale risk is small.

The study, led by Alan Brown, Columbia University Medical Center professor of psychiatry and epidemiology, looked at three different groups of Finnish mothers and offspring from 1996 to 2010: 15,596 mothers who were depressed and took SSRIs during pregnancy; 9,537 mothers who were depressed but did not take SSRIs during pregnancy; and 31,207 mothers who were not diagnosed as depressed and did not take SSRIs during pregnancy.
Both groups of depressed women had higher risks of having children with language disorders than the group of women who were not depressed and also unmedicated.
1 Comment
February 22, 2017
Julene Ray
Questionable validity
This article has been bothering me. While it initially states that the research found an association, I do not think that it clearly makes a distinction between association and effect. These kinds of studies are so poorly able to account for all variables, I almost wonder if they are useful for anything beyond calling for more research. Since doctors and mothers self-selected who would take the SSRIs, there is a real possibility that the SSRI group was heavily loaded with mothers with more severe symptoms of depression. Other factors to consider- what SSRIs were included? Did the mothers take the SSRIs for the entire pregnancy, or only part of the pregnancy? After giving birth, did the mothers continue to take SSRIs? Did they breast feed? Did the mothers who did not take SSRIs while pregnant began taking SSRIs after giving birth? Did *they* breastfeed? My main concern is that studies such as these, which in no way prove causation, may cause pregnant women, hoping to avoid language delays in their children, to choose to come off SSRIs. Without proving causation, it is just as possible that taking women with severe depressive symptoms off medication will have the opposite of the intended effect. I think that it is the ASHA Leader's responsibility to be cautious in presenting this kind of information without qualification.
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January 2017
Volume 22, Issue 1