Apr 24, 2017 11:33 AM EDT
A recent study negated earlier findings on the risk of autism among children of mothers who were exposed to antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy. The new study indicated that the intake of anti-depression drugs does not increase the risk of autism for a child if the other risk factors are considered. Two teams conducted the research and focused on Canadian and Swedish children.
"For a woman who needs to take this medication for her mental health and for her psychiatric stability, these results certainly suggest she shouldn't go without treatment," Psychiatrist and senior author Dr. Simone Vigod at Toronto's Women's College Hospital.
It is important to provide treatment to pregnant women who are depressed, according to CBS News. Failure to do so would be more dangerous as it could lead to postpartum depression, premature birth or low birth weight. More than 2,800 of the 36,000 Canadian children studied had exposure to antidepressants while still in their mother's womb and two percent of them were diagnosed with autism. The other team studied 1.5 million children in Sweden and both teams concluded that antidepressants do not really increase autism risk if the other factors that can cause autism are considered.
The researchers also found out that the use of antidepressants among pregnant women does not increase the child's risk of being inflicted with the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) condition. Aside from medications, there are other factors that can increase autism risk including genetics, lifestyle, and behavior. The study pointed out that there are genetic components to depression and autism.
These findings are not, however, conclusive and further studies should be done to confirm the results, according to News9. Autism Speaks chief science officer Thomas Frazier agreed that further studies should be done before announcing the results so as not to get the hopes of depressed mothers high. And even if the results are right, doctors should not immediately recommend antidepressants for pregnant women suffering from depression since there are other options like psychotherapy.
The study shows the lowered risk of using antidepressants for pregnant women, but each case is different. An earlier study by Indiana University researchers and published in the American Medical Association Journal indicated that antidepressants like Prozac do not increase the risk of ADHD and autism. However, the National Health Service only recommend the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy when the benefits are greater than the risks.
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