A study has given tentative proof that antidepressants taken during pregnancy may increase the likelihood of autism among the children thus born.
The link between antidepressant intake during pregnancy and autism is not the final word but it must give many physicians and psychiatrists pause for thought. The real risk lies in unmitigated depression during pregnancy though.
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Researchers from the University of Montreal studied 145,456 kids that were born between a period that lasted from 1998 all the way to 2009. The goal was to see whether the infants of women who took antidepressants during pregnancy developed autism later on.
Over 1054 kids had autism. That is roughly 0.72%. Those women who took antidepressants during the second or third trimester had kids that had an 87% higher chance of contracting autism.
Those who didn’t take antidepressants were normally spared the horror of seeing their child become an autistic kid. Among the 2532 kids, 31 were given the label of being autistic without a margin of doubt. The risk increases for those expecting ladies who took SSRIs.
These are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Of the 1583 children, 22 developed autism later on. However, the point cannot be emphasized enough that if you are pregnant and on antidepressants, do not quit cold turkey without your physician’s advice.
The ladies who have untreated depression during pregnancy often end up facing other complications. The chances of children developing autism is so low that giving up the antidepressants is not a viable alternative.
In fact, the risks for the cure are worse than the risks of continuing to take the antidepressants. Especially, if the antidepressants are really effective in treating the depression of these mothers, than they ought to just be thankful and continue with their pregnancy and conception as planned.
The real thing is for mothers-to-be to be informed citizens and make rational choices that minimize the losses and maximize the gains. More research needs to be done to find out whether antidepressants do have a negative impact on the babies born to mothers taking them.
A lot more needs to be learned before we go jumping to conclusions. That is because the development of the fetus in the womb is a complex process. Both depression and autism share certain traits and they have the same genetic markers.
The underlying mechanism of both ailments are related. The risks for untreated depression during pregnancy are prenatal stress, reduced blood flow and damaged tissues not to mention preterm birth.
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This study was published on December 14th in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.