Dr. Helen

New Study Links Antidepressants Used in Pregnancy to Autism


Children are more likely to be diagnosed with autism if their mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy, a new study shows.

In the new study, women who took antidepressants in the last six months of pregnancy were 87% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Doctors saw no increase in autism rates in women who took medication for depression in the first three months of pregnancy, according to the study, published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Rates of autism in the study were lower than in the U.S. population. In the study, the overall rate of autism was 0.7%; that rate rose to 1.2% among women who took antidepressants in the second or third trimester.

In the U.S., about 2.2% of children ages 3 to 17 — about one in 45 — have autism, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, conducted in 2014.