Researchers at the University of Montreal published a new study in JAMA Pediatrics revealing that mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children who may later be diagnosed with autism. Specifically, mothers who take antidepressants in the last six months of the pregnancy are 87 percent more likely to have an autistic child.
The study shows that the overall rate of autism was 0.7 percent, which is lower than the national average, and increased to 1.2 percent in mothers who took antidepressants in the last six months of pregnancy. The research suggested that autism rates were not affected by antidepressants taken in the first three months.
According to the CDC, about one in 45 children between 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with autism. The national rate for children between those ages is 2.2 percent.
How Do Antidepressants During Pregnancy Affect My Child?
The study shows that women who take a certain kind of antidepressants, called SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), were twice as likely to have an autistic child. Women taking more than one drug to treat depression were found to be four times as likely.
There are a number of doctors that call the study flawed, including Paul Wang, head of medical research for Autism Speaks. He says that women taking medication for depression are less likely to give birth prematurely, a known factor in autism. He also argues that women who have their depression under control are obviously much better equipped to take care of themselves and their babies.
The researchers at Montreal note that depression is a very serious and life-threatening illness, and women should not stop taking medication for it because of their study alone.
Targan & Pender is a personal injury law firm that helps clients throughout New Jersey, including Wildwood Crest, Stone Harbor and Strathmere.