Antidepressants and Autism

Creative Commons License photo credit: pvera

One of the more worrisome bits of information to come out over the past few years has been the possible connection between a woman taking antidepressants during her pregnancy and the risk of autism. Right now, there is still so much that we don’t truly understand about autism. We just know that it can be a terrible condition for a child to have, and we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk that our child might be autistic.

There has been a large amount of research over the past 10 years on the impact that SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant medications can have on pregnancy. Prozac is probably the most commonly-known of the SSRIs, though many other popular antidepressants also fall into that category.

Findings have varied. There is some evidence to think that a pregnant woman taking SSRIs during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of pre-term delivery, or that the baby may actually show withdrawal symptoms after he’s born.

A report in the Archives of General Psychiatry makes a link between SSRIs and the increased risk that a baby will be born with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or another pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). This report suggests that environmental factors during pregnancy may have an even larger impact on the baby than what was previously believed to be the case.

Somewhere around 20 percent of women get depressed during pregnancy, according to a report in 2009. This becomes a problem when the primary method used to treat depression can potentially cause risks to your baby.

Depression during pregnancy is just as dangerous, if not more so, than the antidepressants, however. Depression during pregnancy can have negative physical effects on your baby, too.

The key is to deal with depression while you’re pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how best to do that. There are antidepressant medications out there that aren’t SSRIs, that may be safe to take during pregnancy. There are also lifestyle changes, as well as therapy, that may be able to help you make it through those down times while you’re waiting for your baby.

So, what about you? Have you been depressed during pregnancy? How did you handle it?

This entry was posted in Pregnancy. Bookmark the permalink.