Washington D.C.: The pros and cons of taking antidepressants while pregnant have been hotly debated and now, a recent study suggests that their usage increases the risk of autism by 87 percent.
The University of Montreal's Anick Berard came to her conclusions after reviewing data covering 145,456 pregnancies. The variety of causes of autism remains unclear, but studies have shown that both genetics and environment can play a role, she explained.
She added that the study has established that taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy almost doubles the risk that the child will be diagnosed with autism by age 7, especially if the mother takes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, often known by its acronym SSRIs.
The World Health Organization indicates that depression will be the second leading cause of death by 2020, which leads the researchers to believe that antidepressants will likely to remain widely prescribed, including during pregnancy.
"Our work contributes to a better understanding of the long-term neurodevelopmental effects of anti-depressants on children when they are used during gestation. Uncovering the outcomes of these drugs is a public health priority, given their widespread use," Prof. Berard said.
The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.