A mama-to-be’s mental health is extremely important during the emotional months of pregnancy as well as the period after birth. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics that examined antidepressant use during the three stages of pregnancy, however, may have found a troubling association: women who took antidepressants during their second and third trimesters had an 87% higher risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than women who did not take antidepressants throughout their pregnancy. Although maternal depression has been linked in the past to autism, this study showed that the link may be affected by when the mother takes antidepressants, as well as what type, in addition to genetics. Researchers found that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which include medications such as Prozac and Zoloft, more than double the risk of having a child with ASD when taken in the second and third trimesters. Mothers-to-be who were prescribed more than one class of antidepressants during the last two trimesters showed a quadrupled risk of having a child with autism. Interestingly, the study did not find the autism link with mothers who took antidepressants during their first trimester. The researchers believe this may be due to the fact that much of fetal brain development occurs during the last six months of pregnancy and antidepressants such as SSRIs alter certain chemicals in the brain. The study’s authors utilized the data from over 145,500 pregnancies and note that further investigation is needed to confirm this link.

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via Yahoo!

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