Study Finds No Link To Autism, ADHD In Offspring From Antidepressant Use In Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program Women’s Mental Health Program Women’s College Hospital Toronto, ON

Dr. Vigod

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program
Women’s Mental Health Program
Women’s College Hospital
Toronto, ON

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Depression is one of the most common problems that can complicate a pregnancy. Untreated, or incompletely treated, it can be associated with significant harm to mother and child. While psychotherapies alone may be effective for women with mild (or even moderate) severity symptoms, sometimes antidepressant medication is required. In these cases, the benefits of treatment must be weighed against potential risks. Previous research suggested that there may be an increased risk for autism in children exposed to antidepressant medication during pregnancy. However, previous studies were limited in their ability to account for other potential causes of autism in their analyses. In our study, we used several different strategies to try to compare children whose pregnancy exposures were very similar, except for exposure to an antidepressant.

The main finding was that after using these strategies, there was no longer a statistically significant association between in-utero antidepressant exposure and autism.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers can take away from this report that it appears unlikely that antidepressant exposure in pregnancy is causally related to autism. These results should be reassuring for women who are required to take these medications to maintain their mental health in pregnancy.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It would be helpful to start to focus on creating the ability to provide women with more personalized risk/benefit information about treatment for depression in pregnancy. For example, why do some children develop negative outcomes with specific treatments (or no treatment) whereas others do not.

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Citation:

Brown HK, Ray JG, Wilton AS, Lunsky Y, Gomes T, Vigod SN. Association Between Serotonergic Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children. JAMA. 2017;317(15):1544-1552. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3415

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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