Antidepressants Deemed Safe During Pregnancy for Mother and Baby

July 12, 2021

Although Maternal Psychiatric Conditions Increase the Risk for ASD 

According to new research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications during pregnancy is not associated with a higher risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental delays (DD) in offspring. SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and are generally considered safe. However, the effect of SSRIs on fetuses had remained a source of concern. Now, this new study from researchers at Kaiser Permanente and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health exonerates antidepressants but links a higher risk of ASD and DD with maternal psychiatric conditions. By using information from the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), which collected developmental data on thousands of American children born between 2003 and 2011, the research team analyzed three separate groups of children. These groups included: those with ASD (1367 children); with DD (1750 children); and typical controls (1671 children). Mothers were determined to have psychiatric disorders and to have used antidepressants based on medical records and self-reporting. In total, approximately one-third of mothers in the study had a psychiatric condition before or during pregnancy. Of these mothers, about a quarter took SSRIs or other antidepressants to treat their condition. The study’s findings demonstrated that the risk of ASD or DD was significantly higher, roughly double, for children born to mothers with a psychiatric disorder compared to children whose mothers did not hold a diagnosis. Surprisingly, the use of SSRIs was not associated with the increased risk. Odds of ASD or DD were nearly equal among mothers with psychiatric conditions who did not use SSRIs during pregnancy and for mothers who did use medication. The study’s authors view their findings as positive news for women managing psychiatric conditions such as anxiety or depression while pregnant. Ultimately, they feel their discovery should provide these mothers a sense of relief.  Worrying about an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders for their children should no longer be an issue. 

Original Article

Original Study

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons