(RxWiki News) Women may need to take various medications even while they are pregnant, trying to weigh the risks and benefits of the medications. When it comes to antidepressants, there's at least one thing they don't need to worry about.
A recent study found that children whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy were no more likely to be diagnosed with autism than other children.
The researchers found that any possible link between autism and antidepressant exposure before birth actually disappeared when other factors were taken into account.
Those other factors included the mother's mental health and whether any siblings of the children studied had autism.
Women should consult their OB/GYN or other pregnancy care provider about the risks and benefits of taking antidepressants or other medications while pregnant.
"Discuss your medications with your OB/GYN."
This study, led by Merete Juul Sorenson, of the Regional Centre of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, looked for links between autism and being exposed to antidepressants in the womb.
The researchers examined the medical records for all 668,468 children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2006.
Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders among these children were compared to the records of all the prescription medications that the children's mothers had taken while pregnant.
In their initial analysis, children whose mothers had taken antidepressants during pregnancy appeared to be 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children not exposed to antidepressants in the womb.
However, the researchers then took into account various other factors that might also have influenced whether a child was diagnosed with autism.
When the researchers took into account whether women had affective disorder — a type of mood disorder — the children were only 1.2 times more likely to have autism if they had been exposed to antidepressants before birth.
Then the researchers compared siblings in which one had been exposed to antidepressants in the womb while the other had not.
This analysis revealed that children whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy were only 1.1 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than those not exposed to antidepressants — but this finding could have been due to chance.
In other words, the apparent increased "risk" after taking into account all the other factors was so small and ranged so much across the group that the findings could have been due to chance.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that there was no link between autism and being exposed to antidepressants before birth if all other factors were equal.
"Treatment and counseling of pregnant women with an affective disorder should take into account known harmful effects of untreated affective disorder, as well as known and potential harmful effects of antidepressant medication," the researchers wrote.
This study was published November 14 in the journal Clinical Epidemiology. Information on funding for the study was not provided.
One author had received speakers fees and had served on the advisory boards for Eisai AB and for UCB Nordic, which also provided him with travel funds. The other authors reported no potential conflicts of interest.