Posted on Apr 15, 2014

Scientists have been baffled by how cases of autism are increasing every year in the United States. New research shows various different factors. In some research autism is linked from the father to the child. But in the latest study autism in baby boys is linked to the mothers bearing the child.

CBS news reports on the link between mothers taking medication for depression and baby boys.

The latest research in autism presents a catch 22 for women bearing a boy and taking medication for depression. Studies show that mothers taking depression pills who bear baby boys increase the risk of autism for that baby but if they stop taking the medication then their own life could be at risk.

“Boys with autism were three times more likely to have been exposed to antidepressants known as SSRIs in the womb than typically developing children, according to new research. The new study also found that boys whose mothers took SSRIs -- drugs including Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft -- during pregnancy were also more likely to have developmental delays,” according to CBS.

Even researchers were surprised by the much higher rate of autism risk in boys. The scientist who led the study issued a statement saying, “We found prenatal SSRI exposure was almost three times as likely in boys with autism spectrum disorders relative to typical development, with the greatest risk when exposure is during the first trimester.”

Researchers said while SSRIs are a risk to baby boys’ mothers will be at risk if they stop taking them. Mr. Lee the study’s author said, “It's a complex decision whether to treat or not treat depression with medications during pregnancy. There are so many factors to consider. We didn't intend for our study to be used as a basis for clinical treatment decisions. Women should talk with their doctors about SSRI treatments."

CBS explains how the fetuses of baby boys are exposed to the SSRIs in the womb, “SSRIs used during pregnancy cross the placenta and increase levels of the hormone serotonin in the fetus, as they do in the mother, the researchers said. Higher serotonin levels decrease depression, and these antidepressants are used in about 4 percent of all pregnancies, according to background information with the study. About one in three children with autism has higher-than-normal serotonin levels.”


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