A study shows taking certain medications that are prescribed to have depressive symptoms; anxiety-related disorders and other health complexities treated can be linked to higher autism risk.
SSRI is an antidepressant that is seen to be commonly prescribed to ease depressive symptoms of severe types. These antidepressants are preferred as they tend to cause lesser side effects in comparison to other antidepressants.
Researchers used the available data from Childhood Autism Risks study caution prolonged ingestions of the drug while being pregnant can be linked to higher autism risk especially in male offspring.
Further, the drug is also seen to be a major reason for causing developmental delays.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US puts the number of children being 1 child being diagnosed on the spectrum for every 68 children.
The disorder is seen to be more prevalent in boys in comparison to girls.
Some error has occured.
Professor Irva Hertz- Picciotto led the team of researchers from the University of California. The team of researchers studied 966 pairs of mother-children.
The children were in the age bracket of 2 to 5 years and had a typical development or an autism diagnosis.
The mothers were assessed to understand their prenatal SSRI usage while taking their maternal health into consideration. Other external factors such as socio-demographic information were also analyzed.
The study suggested a glaring link between being continually exposed to SSRI during the gestational period that was seen to increase the risk of autism and other related disorders in male offspring.
A strong association was seen to occur involving the first trimester of the pregnancy.
It should further be noted that girls were also included in the study. However, male offspring’s were seen to showcase a stronger association with SSRI exposure.
The researcher’s highlight, this could potentially be a gender difference in antidepressant exposure effect.
Li-Ching Lee, who co-authored the study says, SSRI are seen to be elevated in boys with its strongest exposure being detected during the third trimester.
However, understanding the risks and benefits of antidepressants is a tricky subject and maternal depressions are seen to carry their own set of risks.
“The study shows evidence in few children having their autism risk influenced due to SSRI exposure in the prenatal phase,” explains Professor Hertz-Picciotto.
The study further highlights the growing challenges for physicians and women to have the risks balanced while reaping the benefits of the antidepressants, due to mental health conditions during the pregnancy phase.
Although the findings of the study are significant, it should also be noted that there were some limitations.
For instance, the researchers have highlighted their difficulty in having SSRI effects isolated from other possible indications.
Further, the groups of children subjected to study were relatively small.
Although the effects of ASD and SSRI are inconsistent, the authors’ highlight, ‘exposure to SSRIs during prenatal phase could increase the chances of one being susceptible to DD or ASD.’