July 6, 2011
In a study involving data on more than 1,800 children — fewer than 300 of whom had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — and their mothers, the scientists found that women who were prescribed drugs to treat depression in the year before giving birth were twice as likely to have children with an ASD, compared with women who did not take antidepressants. The risk was even greater for women who were prescribed the drugs in the first trimester: their children were nearly four times more likely to develop autism or a related disorder.
The study focused on one type of antidepressant, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of drug that includes fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft). These antidepressants work by increasing available levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin surrounding nerve cells in the brain, which helps boost mood.
This article was posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 3:21 am