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SSRI’s Prescribed in First Trimester Increases Risk of Autism in Boys

SSRIs Prescribed

Research conducted by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins has found that there is a strong association between antidepressant intake and Development Delays and Autism in boys. When the mother is exposed to antidepressants (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) for conditions like anxiety, depression and a few other depression related issues, risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder is increased by threefold. Doctors prescribe SSRI’s like sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) fluoxetine (Prozac), and citalopram (Celexa) commonly.

SSRIs Prescribed

This study published in the Paediatrics Online Edition was conducted on 1000 mother-child pairs. Population-based control DD and ASD cases were analysed out of these samples. Validated Standardised Instruments were used by researchers just like trained clinicians to confirm DD and ASD. 966 mother child pairs were taken from the population-based case-control study conducted by University of California and Davis’ MIND Institute in association with Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and Environment study.

Collected information was broken into three categories; Autism diagnosed (ASD), Development Delays (DD) diagnosed and Typical Development (TD) diagnosed. All children in the study were between two and five years of age with majority of population being boys. The ASD group showed 82.5% boys, DD group showed 55.6% boys and TD group showed 85.6% boys. In spite of the fact that the study group included girls, it showed that gender factor plays a major role and boys are affected when it comes to prenatal SSRI exposure.

Li- Ching Lee, one of the researcher said that this could prove that prenatal SSRI exposure affects boys in comparison to girls. Similarly the effect increased multi-fold when exposure was in the first trimester he said. He added that, Serotonin is an important element required for brain development and anything that affects or influence serotonin level during the pregnancy will have an effect after birth.

Centre for the Disease Control and Prevention in United States reported that one out of every 68 children born is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and the percentage is five times higher in boys.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, another researcher stated that the study shows that the physicians have to take a balanced decision while prescribing SSRI’s to pregnant women as mental health of mother also poses a risk to the unborn child.

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