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Pregnancy and depression: Do antidepressants increase risk of autism?

| | September 14, 2018
pregnancy
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Among the many things a woman is supposed to avoid when pregnant are antidepressants, particularly a subtype of the drugs that some studies have linked to an increased risk of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Does taking antidepressants during pregnancy increase the odds that your child will have autism?

Maybe, but even if so, the risk is small. Several studies have looked at the health records of thousands of women for any boost in autism rates among the children of those who took antidepressants while pregnant. Some of these studies found up to a doubling of the odds of the women having a child with autism. However, because the initial risk of autism is small, this increase still adds up to a low absolute risk.

Related article:  Prenatal sequencing for autism genes could be here soon—along with some ethical questions

More importantly, women who take antidepressants may have other traits that are responsible for the increased rates of autism in their children. Many studies that control for these traits conclude that there is no risk from the antidepressants themselves.

Should women stop taking antidepressants while pregnant?

Women grappling with this question should consult their doctor. The risk of autism from taking antidepressants is small, if it exists at all. And severe depression during pregnancy or afterward can be harmful to both the mother and the child. But the risk-benefit analysis for the drugs will be different for each woman.

Read full, original post: The link between antidepressants and autism, explained

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