Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Mothers on Antidepressants May Have Babies with Autism

SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft taken during pregnancy increased the risk for the child to develop autism spectrum disorder.

Taking popular antidepressants during pregnancy appears to increase the risk that the baby will be diagnosed with autism or a similar developmental problem (autism spectrum disorder) as it grows older.

This conclusion results from analysis of data on 145,456 pregnancies in the province of Quebec. The medical records were part of the Quebec Pregnancy/Children Cohort and had information on whether the mothers were taking antidepressants during pregnancy. They also had information on the health and development of the children up to age 10. The study covered all pregnancies between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2009.

SSRI Antidepressant Increased the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

The researchers found that when women took an SSRI antidepressant such as fluoxetine, paroxetine or sertraline during the second or third trimester, the chance of the child having a developmental disorder was 87 percent higher. These drugs may be better known by their brand names Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.

The overall risk is still very modest; only 1,045 youngsters out of the 145,456 live births were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder during the study. That is less than 1 percent. Doctors warn that women should not stop their antidepressants without medical supervision, since depression itself poses risks during pregnancy.

JAMA Pediatrics, online Dec. 14, 2015

Rate this article
4.3- 15 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.