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Antidepressant exposure may increase risk of autism, study suggests

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A recent study by researchers at Drexel University in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggests that certain popular antidepressant medications (specifically, SSRI medications) may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders when infants are exposed to the drugs in the womb. The increased risk, researchers say, however, appears to be relatively small.

In the study, the Drexel team analyzed large population based registers of nearly 750,000 births in Denmark from 1997 through 2006. They found that about 1.5 percent of children born to women who had taken an SSRI during pregnancy were diagnosed with ASD, compared to about 0.7 percent of children born to an otherwise similar group of women not taking the medication (Drexel University, 2014).

The researchers suggest that the increase of a correlation between in utero exposure to SSRI antidepressants and autism may suggest that abnormality of serotonin pathways in the brain may be implicated in autism spectrum disorders.

Drexel University. (2014, June 3). In utero exposure to antidepressants may influence autism risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603092556.htm

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