SSRI Use While Pregnant Now Linked to Autism in Children

(July 22, 2011)

Recent studies found in the Archives of General Psychiatry link antidepressants use by women who are pregnant to autism. In fact, mothers who took antidepressants while pregnant were actually twice as likely to give birth to a child with autism than mothers who were not on antidepressants while pregnant.

This research has also been duplicated by the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente. Their results show that children were at two times the risk to develop autism when their mothers used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, during the year before delivery and three times the risk when SSRIs were taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.

WebMD states that SSRIs work “by blocking a receptor in the brain that absorbs the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is known to influence mood…” The reason this is so important – and the reason to believe their actually is a link between taking these SSRIs and autism development in children – is because SSRIs affect the level of serotonin found in the brain, and the main symptom of children with autism is abnormal serotonin levels. Scientists and researchers are starting to believe that this is no coincidence.

Such SSRIs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, amongst others.

There is evidence that links environmental factors to child development, and shows that taking SSRIs such as Zoloft or Paxil can increase your chances of having an autistic child. In fact, a study showed that the prevalence of autism has increased from 4 to 5 per 10,000 in 1996 to 100 per 10,000 in 2011.

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