According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey in 2014, 2.2% of children ages 3 to 17 (about 1 in 45) have been diagnosed with autism in the United States.
New research published by JAMA Pediatrics has found that women consuming some widely-used antidepressants during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to a child that would later face autism spectrum disorder. The study followed 145,456 children over a span of six years, and it was noted whether the mother took any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). These SSRIs included medications, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “A mother’s history of depression has long been suspected of raising a child’s autism risk. So the study also sought to clarify which showed a stronger link to a child’s likelihood of having autism: a mother’s depression or her taking SSRIs.”
Results of the study found that 1,054 registered babies (0.7%) were later diagnosed with autism when there was antidepressant exposure during pregnancy. It was also discovered that there was 87% more of a risk of autism among babies born to women who used antidepressants during the last six months of pregnancy compared to mothers who just had a history of depression.
Because pregnancy is a critical time for brain development, “a woman’s untreated anxiety and depression are bad for mother and child.”