pregnancy

Antidepressant use during pregnancy linked to increased risk of autism

Monday, July 18, 2011 by: T.M. Hartle
Tags: antidepressants, autism, health news

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(NaturalNews) Several studies have implicated antidepressant use during pregnancy with short term complications in newborns, autism, and other birth defects. A study published in the Archives of General Psychology in July 2011 uncovered a connection between antidepressant use during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism. Increases in autism have coincided with increased use of antidepressants. According to a report in US News, the use of antidepressants in the U.S. has doubled between 1996 and 2005. This dramatic rise in antidepressant use raises questions about the safety of these drugs during pregnancy. The FDA classifies SSRI (antidepressants) as class C drugs, which means they have not been proven safe or unsafe for use in pregnancy. New research is exposing these drugs as potentially unsafe during pregnancy despite the FDA classification.

The recent study in the Archives of General Psychology raises questions about the safety of these drugs in pregnancy and about the fact that a discussion about alternative treatments for pregnant women should be initiated. This study evaluated nearly 1800 children including 298 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers found that the children whose mothers took SSRI antidepressants one year prior to birth had double the incidence of autism. Researchers concluded that prenatal antidepressant exposure particularly in the first trimester causes a modest increase in autism risk. Due to safety concerns some medical professionals support alternative treatments for pregnant women that do not pose risks to the unborn child.

Dr. Mason Turner, Assistant Director of Regional Mental Health for Kaiser, stated that alternatives to medication should be discussed with pregnant women. He suggested the use of stress reduction techniques, support groups, psychotherapy, reducing work hours, and discussing familial support. Many women express concerns over taking medication during pregnancy and physicians must offer women alternatives to medication particularly when that medication has not been proven safe for use in pregnancy. According to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), several short-term complications have been seen in newborns due to SSRI exposure in-utero.

The ACOG issued a press release on antidepressant use in pregnancy detailing some concerning complications seen in newborns. "Exposure to SSRIs late in pregnancy has been associated with short-term complications in newborns including jitteriness, mild respiratory distress, excessively rapid respiration, weak cry, poor muscle tone, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit." The ACOG also mentions an unpublished study that found exposure to a common antidepressant during the first trimester associated with an increased risk of congenital heart malformations. In light of all the risks associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy women should seek out alternative forms of treatment where appropriate.

Dr. James Gordon, a Psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, has found success treating depression for over 35 years using diet, exercise and meditation. Dr Gordon has published a study on the efficacy of his program. The study involved 139 children from Kosovo suffering from post-traumatic stress. After completing 10 weeks of the program, the children suffering from PTSD went from 88 percent to 38 percent. Studies highlighting the efficacy of drug-free treatments offer pregnant women safer alternatives in treating depression. Pregnant women should be informed about the treatment options available for depression and should discuss them with their health practitioner.

Sources:

http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/05/antide...
http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abs...
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-...
http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/p...
http://www.newsweek.com/2008/07/07/prozac-na...

About the author

T.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen. http://www.thepeacefulkitchen.blogspot.com
http://www.kid-healthy-recipes.com
http://www.healthydietplanrecipes.com

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