To answer the question whether or not antidepressants cause autism in pregnancy, we first turned to CNN’s article on the subject. In at least one study, it was shown that antidepressants increase the risk of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) in newborn children. According to the study, taking Zoloft, Prozac, or similar antidepressants in the first trimester of pregnancy increase the autism risk by 3.8%. But any exposure in the womb increases the ASD risk by 2.2%. So, yes, it appears that antidepressants cause autism, or at least increases the risk..
A study done in 2005, found that over 6% of expectant mothers are on antidepressant medication. What do psychiatrists have to say about this study? It seems they are hesitant to recommend pregnant mothers stay off these psychiatric meds. One wonders what would the child, had he a voice in this matter, say. Still haven’t gotten your answer to “Antidepressants cause autism?”, then, read on.
Before antidepressants became such a big money maker, a pregnant woman’s body was considered sacrosanct. It was unthinkable to medicate her with harmful drugs. After the thalidomide scare (sedative drug in the late 1950s and was used to treat morning sickness) of the 1960s produced a rash of babies with missing or stunted limbs, women and their doctors were extremely wary of medication during this crucial time. If the child born of a mother on antidepressants were missing limbs, rather than mental function, perhaps more attention would be paid to the danger.
In February of this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed professionals in the healthcare industry that drug labels for pregnant women were updated for all antipsychotic drugs, including withdrawal symptoms and abnormal muscle movements in newborns for mothers who took these medications during the last trimester of pregnancy.
Are there alternatives to dangerous antidepressants for a woman during her pregnancy? In one study done, 150 pregnant women who were deemed clinically depressed but were not currently on antidepressants were divided into 3 random groups. One of the groups received acupuncture for depression, the second group received acupuncture not designed specifically for depression, and the third group received massage.
The study was 8 weeks long. According to the study results, those who received the acupuncture specifically for depression had a much greater decrease in depressive symptoms, compared with the other women. In fact, 63% in that group had alleviated symptoms of depression, as compared with 44% in the other two groups.
Another suggested alternative to antidepressants we found are fish oil supplements.
Those with severe depression have been found to have a depletion of omega-3 fatty acids. Some researchers believe that a decline in these omega-3 levels play an important part in causing pregnancy related depression. And a developing fetus can cause a pregnant woman’s omega-3 fatty acids to plunge.
A study done in Taiwan with 36 depressed pregnant women with half of the women given 3 grams of the fatty acids from fish every day for 8 weeks, while the other half received a placebo, showed that those taking the fish oil had significant lessening of depressive symptoms, compared with those women taking the placebo. It took about 6 weeks for the benefits to manifest. No adverse effects were found in either the women or their babies.
Despite what some psychiatrists and their pharmacology partners might advise, alternatives to dangerous antidepressants during pregnancy do exist.