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Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Children

kenny

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Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Children

July 6, 2011 — Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by pregnant women may increase the risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their offspring, new research suggests.

In a study of more than 1800 children, investigators found an adjusted 2-fold increased risk for ASD among mothers who used an SSRI during the year before delivery and a 3-fold increased risk when SSRIs were ingested during the first trimester.

"The potential association between use of antidepressants during pregnancy and risk of [ASDs] has never been investigated before," lead author Lisa A. Croen, PhD, senior research scientist and director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) in Oakland, told Medscape Medical News.

However, she noted that the results "should be interpreted with extreme caution" and that further studies are needed to determine if this association represents a causal connection.

"At this point, we do not recommend that women make any changes to their treatment approach for depression and/or anxiety," said Dr. Croen.

Instead, she recommends that those prescribed SSRIs during pregnancy discuss the issue with their doctors.

"We know that there are real risks to the woman and their children if mental health disorders in mom go untreated, and there are real benefits to appropriate treatment. So the potential risk of autism must be balanced with the real benefit of treatment," she said.

The study was published online July 4 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Autism Cases Increasing

According to the study, autism cases have increased from 4 to 5 per 10,000 in 1966 to almost 100 per 10,000 today.

"While at least some of this observed increase in prevalence can be attributed to changing diagnostic standards, availability of services, and greater public awareness, there is considerable scientific and public concern about environmental factors that may contribute to autism risk, most likely in interaction with genetic factors," write the investigators.

"There is some literature suggesting a family history of mental health conditions among individuals with [ASDs], but no prior studies have been able to look at both the mental health condition and the treatment for the condition at the same time," said Dr. Croen.

For this study, the investigators evaluated medical records of 298 children with ASD (82.9% male; 54.7% white, 13.4% Hispanic, 9.4% Asian, 9.1% black) and 1507 healthy controls (80.6% male; 46.4% white, 20.4% Hispanic, 9.9% Asian, 10% black) from the Childhood Autism Perinatal Study. All were born between January 1995 and June 1999 at a KPNC facility.
 

MissStepcut

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Re: Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Childr

As the article points out, establishing a causal relationship will be difficult. It would just be a correlation between autism and maternal age, maternal stress levels, etc, etc.
 

JewelFreak

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Re: Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Childr

As MissStepcut says, correlation does not equal causation. (There's an old chestnut on that subject that goes: You can attribute a rise in crime to ice cream sales -- both go up in August.) It's an interesting finding, but only shows a direction for more research. Nobody knows what autism is at present -- physiologically and how to define it in a human, let alone how it comes about.

I can tell you this, though: major clinical depression is a potentially fatal illness in that its victims are highly inclined to suicide. That's not too good for fetuses either. :| In a person w/serious depression, much of the endocrine & hormone system gets out of whack; blood cortisol levels are high, etc. I assume that would be potentially harmful for a baby in the oven as well.

Until results based on research more concrete than statistics comes along, I don't tend to get excited about stories like this. Statistical studies are very inexact; can be poorly designed or poorly interpreted. As with any medication, if the mother can safely do without it while pregnant, by all means, don't take it. If it puts her life in danger, this isn't enough info to act on imho.
 

mrscushion

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Re: Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Childr

JewelFreak|1310240364|2965597 said:
As MissStepcut says, correlation does not equal causation. (There's an old chestnut on that subject that goes: You can attribute a rise in crime to ice cream sales -- both go up in August.) It's an interesting finding, but only shows a direction for more research. Nobody knows what autism is at present -- physiologically and how to define it in a human, let alone how it comes about.

I can tell you this, though: major clinical depression is a potentially fatal illness in that its victims are highly inclined to suicide. That's not too good for fetuses either. :| In a person w/serious depression, much of the endocrine & hormone system gets out of whack; blood cortisol levels are high, etc. I assume that would be potentially harmful for a baby in the oven as well.

Until results based on research more concrete than statistics comes along, I don't tend to get excited about stories like this. Statistical studies are very inexact; can be poorly designed or poorly interpreted. As with any medication, if the mother can safely do without it while pregnant, by all means, don't take it. If it puts her life in danger, this isn't enough info to act on imho.
This!
 

Arkteia

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Re: Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Childr

Agree1
Look at it this way: antiepileptic drugs are definitely teratogenic (class D), and yet if a woman with seizures gets pregnant she has to take them because seizures in a mom are way more dangerous to a fetus than any potential damage from the drugs. Same for antidepressants... it is one study and the link, honestly, has not been proven, I would not jump to conclusions basing on it.
 
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