New Study Links Prenatal Exposure to SSRIs and Autism Spectrum Disorder
A new study published in the online edition of Pediatrics says that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increases the risk of children having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD).
Details of the SSRI study
According to Psych Central, the John Hopkins study was conducted by researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and examined a group of 1,000 mother-child pairs. The study found that prenatal exposure to SSRIs increased the risk of a child having ASD by three times.
Li-Ching Lee, Ph.D., Sc.M. said, “We found prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly three times as likely in boys with ASD relative to typical development, with the greatest risk when exposure took place during the first trimester.” Researchers also noted that SSRI exposure, especially in the third trimester, elevated the risk of DD in boys.
The study included children aged two through five of both genders, although a majority of children were boys. Researchers also used a uniform protocol to confirm diagnoses of ASD and DD. Children in the study were split into three groups: those with autism spectrum disorder, those with developmental delays and those with typical development.
About Autism Spectrum Disorder
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 68 children are identified as having autism spectrum disorder. The CDC notes, however, that numbers of children identified with ASD varies dramatically between communities. ASD is nearly 5 times more likely to be identified in boys than girls.
The CDC says autism spectrum disorder “is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges… The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.”