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Depression and SSRI use in pregnancy associated with traits of autism in children

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 01 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4835

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Children are more likely to have some symptoms of autism if their mother was depressed during pregnancy, a prospective study in the British Journal of Psychiatry has indicated.1 Treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) could raise that risk further, it also found.

The findings come after those of two other studies—one prospective and one retrospective—that also indicated that prenatal exposure to SSRIs raised the risk of childhood autism spectrum disorder.2 3 But commentators have warned that the results did not necessarily mean that pregnant women should not take antidepressants, because untreated depression is associated with its own risks to mother and baby.

The latest study included 376 children whose mothers had depressive symptoms while pregnant but did not take SSRIs, 69 children whose mothers had depression and took SSRIs, and 5531 children whose mothers did not have depression. …

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