Autism is one of the great mysteries of our time. While we’re just sort of beginning to understand the disease itself, it seems to be even more difficult to figure out exactly what’s causing it. There have been many theories out there, some of which have been debunked (such as the vaccine theory). In other cases, it’s observed that environmental factors may actually be able to play a role with autism.
A recent study suggests that there may be yet another possible cause for autism. The study found that taking certain types of antidepressants while pregnant may significantly increase the odds of that child being born with autism.
The study looked into cases of 298 children that had been diagnosed with autism, as well as a control group of over 1500 children. Mothers who took an SSRI antidepressant such as Zoloft, Paxil, or Prozac during pregnancy were more likely – as much as two times more likely – to have a child with autism.
The study actually found that using those SSRI antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy was the time that brought with it the highest risk.
This isn’t the first time that we’re hearing of antidepressants causing problems during pregnancy. For example, there’s already a lawsuit against the makers of Paxil that suggests that using the drug during pregnancy led to children being born with PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns) and a variety of other birth defects and health problems.
There have been similar cases building momentum against the makers of Zoloft.
The key with antidepressants during pregnancy is the same as with other medications during pregnancy. A woman and her doctor need to look at the potential benefits of the medication compared with the potential side effects. For example, a woman who suffers from severe depression can be highly at risk during pregnancy, and depression can cause a number of health problems for both her and the baby.
If you’re pregnant and on an SSRI, talk to your doctor immediately to see whether there might be an alternative medication you can take during pregnancy.