Connecting Anti-depressants and Autism

PhotoBucket Image You likely heard about the belief that immunizations cause Autism, and if you looked into it at all you would know that the study has been de-bunked and there is no proven connection between the two. While there are still many believers, most scientists have moved on to discover what exactly causes Autism. The general agreement in the scientific community is that there are genetics at play, but since science has been unable to account for a specific genetic factor, they are also searching for environmental links to Autism that may help answer some questions.

I personally find the quest to have concrete answers about Autism interesting. There are so many disorders out there that can significantly impact children, how this particular one rose to the top of the heap certainly points to what star power can do. As someone who has worked with many developmentally delayed youth I understand the need, but I can’t help but question how different groups get prioritized. But it is a question I keep in the back of my mind, because I am thankful for any research that answers questions that may help children.

The research released this week was very interesting. As always it is preliminary, meaning that while the results of the study are important they need to be replicated and completed on a larger scale for scientists to say the results are 100% accurate. Yet they are important.

This particular study was looking at antidepressant use during pregnancy and if there is an impact on the number of children with Autism (anywhere on the spectrum). I found this to be important, since many women weigh whether or not they should stay on an anti-depressant while they are trying to conceive. I recall 10 years ago being told I should stay on my medication for anxiety until I actually conceived, to keep from having anxiety impacting my ability to get pregnant.

So, although only an initial finding, the research clearly showed a connection between using anti-depressants in the year prior to getting pregnancy and having a child with Autism. For those who were on the medication during the first trimester of pregnancy the risk was even higher. The researchers were quick to point out that it is very important to weigh a relatively small risk of Autism with the risks of un-treated depression and not just stop taking medications. Further research needs to be done to better understand the connection, but it is worth communicating with your physician if you are thinking about getting pregnant.