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July 7, 2011

Antidepressants and Autism: Taking medication for depression during pregnancy may be linked to spectrum disorders

A new study released by the Archive of General Psychiatry concluded that antidepressants, when taken in the first trimester of pregnancy, may modestly increase the risk of mothers giving birth to babies with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

The study says that the prevalence of ASDs has increased in recent years, as has the use of antidepressants, particularly among expecting mothers. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California used a population-based, case-control study of 298 children with varying degrees of autism and their mothers. Those families were compared to a randomly selected population of more than 1,500 children and their mothers.

Nearly 70 children in both groups were exposed to antidepressants during their fetal development. The researchers found an increased risk in ASDs associated with those whose mothers took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft within a year before delivery. The strongest risk was associated with those whose mothers took such antidepressants during the first trimester.

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