JAMA Pediatrics Article Reports Increased Risk Is Greatest When These Depression Medicines Are Used By Mothers During The Second And/Or Third Trimester
Some popular medications prescribed to treat depression are in the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, class of drugs, including the following:
Effexor (venlafaxine); and,
A recent medical journal article discussed the extent to which these drugs, when used by women during pregnancy, are associated with an increased autism risk in children.
The bottom line is that using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during the second or third trimester of pregnancy is associated with a heightened risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. This is according to a JAMA Pediatrics study which is the subject of this article, "Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children", first published online in December 2015.
For that study the medical researchers used data from a population-based cohort study of women from Quebec who delivered 145,000 full-term singleton infants. Children were followed until a mean age of 6.2 years.
From the Abstract for the JAMA Pediatrics medical journal article about that study we get these details about its findings:
Importance The association between the use of antidepressants during gestation and the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children is still controversial. The etiology of ASD remains unclear, although studies have implicated genetic predispositions, environmental risk factors, and maternal depression.
Objective To examine the risk of ASD in children associated with antidepressant use during pregnancy according to trimester of exposure and taking into account maternal depression.
Exposures Antidepressant exposure during pregnancy was defined according to trimester and specific antidepressant classes.
Main Outcomes and Measures Children with ASD were defined as those with at least 1 diagnosis of ASD between date of birth and last date of follow-up. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate crude and adjusted hazard ratios with 95% CIs.
Results During 904 035.50 person-years of follow-up, 1054 children (0.7%) were diagnosed with ASD; boys with ASD outnumbered girls by a ratio of about 4:1. The mean (SD) age of children at the end of follow-up was 6.24 (3.19) years. Adjusting for potential confounders, use of antidepressants during the second and/or third trimester was associated with the risk of ASD (31 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.15-3.04). Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors during the second and/or third trimester was significantly associated with an increased risk of ASD (22 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.20-3.93). The risk was persistent even after taking into account maternal history of depression (29 exposed infants; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.03-2.97).
Conclusions and Relevance Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression. Further research is needed to specifically assess the risk of ASD associated with antidepressant types and dosages during pregnancy.
We will continue to monitor the apparent link between the use of antidepressant drugs such as Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Paxil, and Effexor by women during pregnancy with the new side effect of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their children, and report significant developments here.
In addition, in an upcoming article we will be reporting on an important study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. It was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) medical journal and addresses certain birth defects side effects associated with the SSRI drugs, especially Paxil and Prozac.
Of course, we welcome Comments for this article (which can be submitted below) from mothers and medical providers as well as any other people interested in the topic of SSRI use during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.