Antidepressant use during pregnancy doesn’t spur autism risk

Since long, antidepressant use during pregnancy has been feared to fuel autism in kids. But findings of the new study bring some respite.

According to the latest study, use of antidepressant drugs during pregnancy does not increase the risk of having an autistic child.

The findings of the current study rubbish previous findings that suggested an increased risk of having a child with autism for mothers who used antidepressant drugs during pregnancy.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Aarhus University in Denmark looked at more than 600,000 Danish children born between 1996 -2006.

Researchers studied the autism risk of all participants. They also collected information from mothers remained on antidepressant medications during pregnancy.

Researchers found that the risk of having an autistic child was 2 percent risk among women who used antidepressant medication during pregnancy. For women who did not take such drugs, the risk was marginally low – at 1.5 percent.

The researchers further assessed the psychiatric diagnoses of siblings and parents. After accounting for such information, the risk of having an autistic child dropped further low, the team highlighted.

“We know from previous studies that there is an increased risk for autism, among other things, if the parents have a mental diagnosis such as
depression,” study’s lead author, Jakob Christensen, a researcher at the Aarhus University, said.

However, the findings of the study fail to establish such link, Christensen noted. “But we cannot demonstrate that the risk is further increased if the mother has received prescription antidepressant medication during the pregnancy.”

“By analyzing data for siblings we can see that the risk of having a child with autism is largely the same regardless of whether the mother takes antidepressant medication or not during the pregnancy,” Christensen concluded.

Pregnant women who suffer from any mental diagnosis such as depression or anxiety should regularly be in touch with both gynecologists and psychiatrists, Christensen recommends.

The findings of the study are reported in the journal Clinical Epidemiology.