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Controversy over Antidepressants and Autism

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Katie Chapman4 years ago

According to WND, there are two alarming health trends today regarding pregnant women taking antidepressants, which may or may not be linked to autism in children.

Are Antidepressants linked to Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The federal U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in every 50 American children now have some form of autism.

The CDC also reports that prescription rates for antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Luvox and Celexa has become equally stratospheric, with 11 percent of all Americans 12-and-over taking them, and 23 percent of women in their 40s and 50s.

According to the WND, there have been conflicts as to the use of antidepressants to treat pregnant women, but the question remains: Do antidepressants in pregnant women cause their children to be born with autism spectrum disorder?

The Research and the Controversy

Multiple studies have been conducted over the past several years addressing that very question, and research scientists have concluded that women who take modern antidepressants, also commonly called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), while pregnant are at an increased risk having a child born with autism.

Unfortunately, the answer may not be as simple as “stop medicating.”

Tim Oberlander, M.D., a professor of developmental pediatrics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, argues that poor maternal mental health during pregnancy is a major public health issue and that non-treatment is not always an option.

Further, Oberlander  points out that while some children might be at risk from an SSRI exposure, there are many mothers and children who will benefit as well.

Lisa Croen, Ph.D., director of autism research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California shared similar concerns, adding that untreated depression during pregnancy carries its own risks, such as preterm birth and growth problems.

The problem becomes balancing the potential risks to the child with the risks of an untreated mother.

Pregnant Women Need to Consult with Physicians

In order to determine the best course of action regarding SSRIs, pregnant women taking antidepressants should consult with their healthcare providers.

By analyzing a patient’s medical history, physicians can build a treatment plan around the symptoms and severity of the patient’s depressions.

Adam Urato, M.D., assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston explains that while some women with severe depression can become suicidal after halting treatment, the majority of women being treated with psychotropic medication are diagnosed with mild to moderate depression.

As such, there needs to be a presentation of information that is accurate, complete and correct; however, according to Urato, such information is not being made available, posing a threat to expectant mothers.


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