The use of antidepressants during pregnancy may increase the risk of the child developing autism, according to a recent study conduct by researchers at the University of Montreal.
The study linked antidepressants taken in the later stages of pregnancy, including the second and third trimesters, to children being born with autism. Researchers found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, are the most likely to result in autism. The Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics network took a close look at the study and determined that only the women who used SSRIs ended up giving birth to children with autism. The JAMA medical experts wrote that “other classes of antidepressants were not statistically significantly associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder.”
Although the reason for the connection between antidepressants and autism remains unclear, even after the study, the researchers indicated that the study does account for maternal depression. The treatment of depression is a major issue in the U.S., with approximately 13 percent of pregnant women taking some form of antidepressants. As a result, there is a fear among some doctors that pregnant women will react to the news by not taking antidepressant and other medication that they need.
The general response of the medical community to the new study is that the risk of autism is still extremely small, so pregnant women should not avoid necessary antidepressants. In fact, just one percent of the children tested for the study were diagnosed with autism between 1998 and 2009. One expert, Dr. Eva Pressman, the chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at the University of Rochester in New York, said that the effect of antidepressants on autism is not very large. Pressman further noted that it can be very dangerous for a person to suddenly come off their medication.
It is likely that the causes of autism, as well as the connection between antidepressants and autism, will be further studied in the future. In the meantime, it is important for anyone who has been diagnosed with autism, or any other medical disorder, to consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer.
To learn more about the recent study linking antidepressants to autism, see the NBCNews.com article entitled, “Pregnant Women on Antidepressants More Likely to Have Child with Autism.” https://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/pregnant-women-antidepressants-more-likely-have-autistic-child-n479666
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