Researchers studied 966 mother-child pairs in order to examine the associations between prenatal use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—e.g., Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa– and the odds of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays. This was a population based case-control study. The scientists found that among boys, prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly 3-fold higher in children with autism spectrum disorder relative to children with typical development. The strongest correlation occurred with first-trimester exposure. Prenatal SSRI exposure in boys also resulted in a 3.4-fold increase in developmental delay as compared to children with typical development. The study population had significantly more boys than girls (81% v. 19%). The small number of girls in this study negated any conclusions being drawn about girls being born to mothers who took SSRIs. The authors concluded, “In boys, prenatal exposure to SSRIs may increase susceptibility to autism spectrum disorder or developmental delay.” (Pediatrics; Vol. 133. N. 5. May, 2014)
Comment: We are experiencing an epidemic of autism. I posted a blog about this on March 30, 2014 (https://drbrownstein.com/autism-rates-skyrocket-higher/). The latest statistics are scary: Since 2012, autism rates have increased 30%. Now, 1 in 68 children aged eight years have autism. Could the rapid rise in autism be due, in part, to the overuse of antidepressant mediations? The study from the journal Pediatrics (discussed above) found, in comparison to children with typical development, a 3-fold increase in autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay in children exposed to SSRIs prenatally.
Folks, this study should be a warning to us all. Either we make some quick changes or our standard of living will decline in the near future. We cannot have a significant portion of our young people sick. They will not be able to meet their potential in life and they will not be able to support us when we are old.
It would be one thing if SSRI’s worked for the majority of patients who take them. They don’t. Study after study has found for mild to moderate depression, SSRIs are no better than placebo. And, for mild to moderate depression, when compared to any SSRI medication, exercise provides better and more long-lasting results. I can’t recall one study where SSRIs outperform exercise both for the long-term control of depression.
Pregnant women need to be careful about any medication that crosses the placental barrier. SSRIs cross the placental barrier easily. It is a fool’s game to take an SSRI during pregnancy unless the woman is severely depressed. I am not implying the depression in pregnancy is not a serious issue—it is. When compared to infants of non-depressed women, maternal depression in pregnancy is related to preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, and preeclampsia. Perhaps, for the majority of women with mild to moderate depression, exercise should be the first prescription given and SSRIs should be avoided.
More information about SSRIs can be found in my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do.
One final note. Don’t forget about The Thyroid Summit which starts tomorrow. Over 30 of the world’s experts on thyroid issues will be presenting information about thyroid disorders. It is a FREE summit. It starts tomorrow, June 2, 2014. Sign up now!