Antidepressants not as harmful during pregnancy as previously thought, a new study shows
Source: Washington Post
Women who take antidepressants early in pregnancy are not at a higher risk of having children who develop autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), contrary to earlier reports, a study published Tuesday found.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found only a slight increase in the risk of premature birth for infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of their pregnancy. But the researchers found no increase in the risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among children exposed to antidepressants during fetal development.
The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, analyzed data on all live births in Sweden from 1996 to 2012. Data about the country's antidepressant prescriptions in adults, autism and ADHD diagnoses in children, parents' age and education levels, genetic relationships between parents and children and other characteristics were also incorporated in the study, which allowed researchers to control for other risk factors for developmental disorders.
Researchers were able to study a very large population sample, about 950,000 mothers and about 1.6 million children, which enabled them to look at rare outcomes. And researchers were able to get measures of antidepressant use based both on mothers' self-report and when they were given the medications from a pharmacy. The study controlled for a number of factors to isolate the effects of medication.