Antidepressants linked to higher risk of autism

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Researchers from University of Montreal have linked antidepressants taken during pregnancy to the risk of autism in the children of women who took the antidepressants, abc News reports.

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

However, the researchers emphasized that untreated depression during pregnancy was a matter of major concern. 

For the study, the researchers studied 145,456 kids in Quebec, born between 1998 and 2009. The study revealed that 1,054 children out of the entire group were diagnosed with autism.

The study also found that the children of women who took antidepressants during the second and/or third trimester were at an 87 percent higher risk to develop autism than those without exposure to antidepressants. Of the 2,532 children out of the entire group that fell into this category, 31 were diagnosed with autism.

However, Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, said pregnant women on SSRIs should not stop taking their medication without more study and information.

"The absolute risk is still low and the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor that it's low," Wiznitzer said.

"They need to be informed consumers and can make rational judgments about what's best for them," Wiznitzer further explained.

The study also revealed that the risk was increased for children of those women who were taking the most common form of antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) with a 117 percent greater chance of developing an autism disorder.

Of the 1,583 children in this category, 22 were diagnosed with autism (about 1.4 percent).

An accompanying editorial written by Dr. Bryan King, Program Director of the Autism Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital, said more research is needed to understand the relationship between antidepressants and the development of a fetus.

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