Antidepressants in Pregnancy Linked to Increased Autism Risk and Potential Birth Defects - December 2016

Antidepressant use during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, particularly use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), nearly doubles the risk of the child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by age 7 years, new research shows.

The study also showed that maternal history of depression is associated with an increased risk for ASD, albeit the risk is smaller.

Certain antidepressants have also been shown to increase the risk of birth defects so careful consideration needs to be given to their use and risks if not prescribed.

"Early pregnancy is a critical time for a baby's organs to develop, so the best time to discuss the safety of medication use is before pregnancy. If healthcare providers are treating women who are already pregnant, it is important to discuss the risk and benefits of antidepressants as well as the safest options available to treat their mental health condition during pregnancy," Dr Reefhuis said.

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