According to a new study by the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente, antidepressant use during pregnancy could lead to an increased risk of autism. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants including the popular drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, and Celexa. The results of the study indicated that SSRI use during pregnancy led to a twofold increased risk for a child born with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente, antidepressant used during pregnancy could lead to an increased risk of autism.
The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry medical journal, analyzed a total of 298 case children with ASD (and their mothers) and 1507 randomly selected control children (and their mothers). Prenatal exposure to antidepressant medications was reported for 20 case children (6.7%) and 50 control children (3.3%). Accordingly, there appears to be a twofold increased risk of ASD associated with SSRI use by the mother during pregnancy, and up to a fourfold increased risk when used during the first trimester.
The prevalence of ASD is increasing at an alarming rate. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined. With 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys affected by autism, this type of research is groundbreaking and important. With new medical detection or cure for autism, the disability costs the United States over $35 billion every year, a number that is steadily rising.
SSRIs like Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, and Celexa have also reportedly been linked to negative complications and certain birth defects. Complications associated with the use of SSRIs in pregnant women have been wide-ranging, reportedly including cardiac defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), Tetralology of the Fallot (TOF), abnormal skull development, Ventrical Septal Defect (VSD), gastrointestinal abnormalities, cardiac defects, brain defects, Atrial Septal Defect, and many others. One Danish study showed that taking certain SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy could lead to double, and in some cases, triple the risk of certain birth defects.
While SSRIs can be an effective tool to control an individual’s mental state, they may also pose significant risks to pregnant women. The FDA advises that pregnant women should use them "only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus." Before taking medication while pregnant, especially SSRIs, talk to your doctor and weigh the risks and benefits. If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with a birth defect after taking an SSRI during pregnancy, contact a dedicated SSRI birth defect attorney by completing the form on the right to find out if you have legal recourse to seek compensation.