New Study Found No Link Between Antidepressants In Pregnancy And Autism


A new study conducted by the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada, reveals that there is no link between autism and the use of antidepressants during and before pregnancy. There was also no link between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and gestational antidepressant use.

Three different studies signify that antidepressant use in women, who are pregnant is likely not responsible for autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children. Also, the connection in some published studies was likely because of confounding factors.


Antidepressants During Pregnancy Has No Link To Autism

The team of researchers assessed the link between childhood ASD in 35,906 births and gestational serotonergic antidepressant exposure.

The findings revealed that in 2,837 pregnancies or 7.9 percent, involving exposure to antidepressants only 2 percent of children were diagnosed with ASD. When comparing these results to the children born to mothers that did not consume antidepressants, it was slightly higher. However, after making a few adjustments for confounding factors, the researchers discovered that the difference was no longer significant. The difference was also not significant when the group of exposed children were compared with the group of unexposed siblings.

We will never be able to say for certain that a medication has zero risk,” Dr. Vigod said. “But these data, together with the findings of the other studies published this week are reassuring and suggest that antidepressants during pregnancy are reasonably low risk.”

First-Trimester Antidepressant Exposure And Neurodevelopmental Problems

Another study conducted by a team of researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington, focused solely on confounding factors between first trimester antidepressant exposure and neurodevelopmental problems and birth.

The researcher examined an estimated 1.5 million Swedish offspring that were born between 1992 and 2012. Follow-up data was available for these participants through 2013. A total of 22,544 or 1.4 percent of these children were born to mothers, who self-reported utilizing antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Complex statistical methods were utilized to account for an array of confounding factors. Once the confounding factors were regulated, the researchers discovered that when comparing first trimester antidepressant exposure with non-exposure, only a “small increased risk of preterm birth” was associated with antidepressant exposure. However, there was no increase risk for ASD, ADHD or having small size for gestational age.

The studies were published in the journal JAMA on April 18, 2017.

A meta-analysis conducted by a team of researchers from the Bicêtre University Hospital in France, revealed “inconsistent results” concerning the connection of fetal exposure to antidepressants during the preconception period and each trimester of pregnancy and ASD.

The researchers examined 10 published studies and discovered a remarkable link between increased risk of ASD and antidepressant use during pregnancy. The link was less consistent during each trimester than during the preconception period. When the researchers regulated for history of maternal mental illness, the connection was much weaker.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on April 17, 2017.

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