Skip to comments.1st Trimester Antidepressant Use Tied to Autism Risk
Posted on 04/17/2014 6:11:13 AM PDT by Scoutmaster
A new Johns Hopkins study discovers an association between prenatal exposure to antidepressant medications, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and developmental delays (DD) in boys.
Researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health found that early prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety, and other disorders increased the risk for ASD three-fold.
Common SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft).
The study of 1,000 mother-child pairs is published in the online edition of Pediatrics. In the study, investigators analyzed data from large samples of ASD and DD cases, and population-based controls.
Importantly, researchers used a uniform protocol to confirm ASD and DD diagnoses by trained clinicians using validated standardized instruments.
The study included 966 mother-child pairs from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study, a population-based case-control study based at the University of California at Davis MIND Institute.
The researchers broke the data into three groups: Those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), those with developmental delays (DD), and those with typical development (TD).
The children ranged in ages two to five. A majority of the children were boys 82.5 percent in the ASD group were boys, 65.6 percent in the DD group were boys, and 85.6 percent in the TD were boys.
While the study included girls, the substantially stronger effect in boys alone suggests possible gender difference in the effect of prenatal SSRI exposure.
We found prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly three times as likely in boys with ASD relative to typical development, with the greatest risk when exposure took place during the first trimester, said Li-Ching Lee, Ph.D., Sc.M.
SSRI was also elevated among boys with DD, with the strongest exposure effect in the third trimester.
Serotonin is critical to early brain development; thus, exposure during pregnancy to anything that influences serotonin levels can have potential effect on birth and developmental outcomes, said the researchers.
In the U.S., the prevalence of ADS continues to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children in the U.S. is identified with ADS, and it is almost five times more common among boys than girls.
One may question whether the increased use of SSRI in recent years is a contributor to the dramatic rise of ASD prevalence.
This study provides further evidence that in some children, prenatal exposure to SSRIs may influence their risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder, said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D., M.P.H.
This research also highlights the challenge for women and their physicians to balance the risks versus the benefits of taking these medications, given that a mothers underlying mental-health conditions also may pose a risk, both to herself and her child.
Regarding treatment, the authors note that maternal depression itself carries risks for the fetus, and the benefits of using SSRI during pregnancy should be considered carefully against the potential harm.
The researchers also note that large sample studies are needed to investigate the effects in girls with ASD.
Limitations of the study acknowledged include the difficulty in isolating SSRI effects from those of their indications for use, lack of information on SSRI dosage precluded dose-response analyses, and the relatively small sample of DD children resulted in imprecise estimates of association, which should be viewed with caution.
I’m dumbfounded that anti-depressents would be prescribed or taken during pregnancy.
It seems that ASD has many causes. This might be one.
Same here. And when did this practice start, last month?
I can't believe no one has checked into this connection before now.
If a woman has missed a couple of periods and she's feeling 'down' ... doesn't she think she might be pregnant and not 'depressed' ?
If she approaches her Dr., doesn't he ask if she's pregnant ?
I'm not saying this is or is not 'a' cause for autism, but merely wondering how it could happen.
Mom told me what the doctor made her take while pregnant with me. I understand after research why am the way I am. All has been made clear. Thank You. I’m suing Mom.
Think of all the women who are already on anti depressants and don’t know they are pregnant for 6 to 8 weeks.
do you have any idea how many chemicals are now present in the body tissues of every one of us? Deliberate ingestion is just one mode.
some of these chemicals affect the developing fetus before the women even knows she is pregnant
A substance that even touches the skin is absorbed into the organs within 20 minutes, and some of the chemicals accumulate. I think it’s possible not only our air, food and drug chain but our “beauty” industry has a something to do with the epidemic of unhealthy children being born to middle and upperclass women
A woman is suspicious she's become pregnant way before that point. A lot of those ads for other stuff on TV include "if you're pregnant or might become pregnant...." in the list of those who shouldn't take the drugs. I would've assumed such retrictions were on anti-depressents, too.
The problem with "crack babies" has been known for over a generation. Why would these other drugs be any different in those effects?
Well, if women are already on antidepressants and they get pregnant, they are stuck with it. Ever seen the withdrawals from trying to come of those things?
I also wonder why someone who is depressed would intentionally get pregnant.
Try first trimester marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, alcohol and tobacco use being linked to autism. Decadence has its consequences.
So far, so good. It takes a few years to cleanse ones body, but it's worth it. JMHO
Why yes, I do. For instance I weigh 184 pounds; therefore there are 184 pounds of chemicals in my body.
According to studies, the water table has been polluted with birth control drugs. Why can’t the same be said for these anti-depressants? One might not even take the drugs to be exposed to them.
“A woman is suspicious she’s become pregnant way before that point.”
Some women are, some aren’t.
I'm surprised practically any drug is prescribed during pregnancy! I avoid pharmaceuticals to the utmost as I generally regard the side effects worse than the original malady.
My teeth are a permanent, un-bleachable shade of yellowish off-white because my mother took tetracyclene when she was pregnant with me. I am of the opinion that all drugs should be avoided while pregnant, unless the life of either child or mother is in jeopardy.