Washington: A new study, conducted to find why an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with autism, has found that there is no link between the of antidepressant medication - the so-called SSRIs - during the course of pregnancy and the risk of having a child with autism.
Previous research has shown that the risk of having a child with autism is up to five times greater for pregnant women who take antidepressant medication.
In a large register study, Jakob Christensen, researcher at Aarhus University and staff specialist at Aarhus University Hospital, and his colleagues from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital have followed more than 600,000 Danish children born in the period between 1996-2006.
The initial results of the Danish study showed that there was almost a two percent risk of having a child with autism for pregnant women who take antidepressant medication during their pregnancy.
For women who do not take antidepressant medication during pregnancy the risk was 1.5 percent. But the researchers also analysed siblings and parents' psychiatric diagnoses. And when these are taken into account the risk is shown to be minimal.
"By analysing data for siblings we can see that the risk of having a child with autism is largely the same regardless of whether the mother takes antidepressant medication or not during the pregnancy," Christensen said.
The researchers cannot thereby demonstrate that the medication is to blame for autism in children.
The study was published in journal Clinical Epidemiology.
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