New research published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology has proved there is little or no correlation from taking SSRI antidepressant medications during pregnancy and having a child with autism.
Previous research has shown that the risk can be up to five times greater when a mother has prescribed antidepressants during gestation.
The research was conducted at Aarhus University and staff specialist at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. They looked at more than 600,000 Danish children born between 1996 and 2006, making it the largest study of its kind.
The study showed that there was a 2 pc chance of a child developing autism to a mother who was taking antidepressants whilst pregnant, compared to a 1.5 pc chance to a mother who wasn’t. The study also took into account parental and sibling diagnosis and proved the risk was minimal.
Lead researcher Jakob Christensen said:
“We know from previous studies that there is an increased risk for autism, among other things, if the parents have a mental diagnosis such as depression. But we cannot demonstrate that the risk is further increased if the mother has received prescription antidepressant medication during the pregnancy. By analysing data for siblings we can see that the risk of having a child with autism is largely the same regardless of whether the mother takes antidepressant medication or not during the pregnancy. data for siblings we can see that the risk of having a child with autism is largely the same regardless of whether the mother takes antidepressant medication or not during the pregnancy.”
The researchers stress that there may be other risks associated with taking antidepressant medication during pregnancy. Women who are planning a pregnancy are advised to discuss options with their GP before becoming pregnant.