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November 25, 2013

Autism linked to Antidepressant Use during Pregnancy

The authors of a Swedish Study reported that “in utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and nonselective monoamine reuptake inhibitors (tricyclic antidepressants) was associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders.”

Another study by Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA in 2011 also looked into the connection between antidepressants taken during pregnancy and autism in exposed children.  Researchers found that “especially during the first trimester, (antidepressant use) may modestly increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Dr. Adam C. Urato, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Tufts University School of Medicine is well aware of the connection between SSRIs and autism.  “It really should not come as that much of a surprise given that numerous animal studies have shown that exposure during development leads to changes in the brain and changes in behavior – often that mimic autism.  Dr. Urato also feels that the benefits of taking antidepressants during pregnancy do not outweigh the risks.  In addition to the risk of autism, SSRIs have also been associated with other birth defects and disorders.

The current rate of autism in the United States is 1 in 50, up from 1 in 5000 in 1975.

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