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Link between Anti-Depressants and ASD during Pregnancy

Specialists have yet to understand the single exact cause of ASD, and why autism diagnoses seem to be on the rise. According to our research at Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, Autism Spectrum Disorder- one can say- is the resultant of a mélange of factors. Medical professionals believe that genetics is one of the main constituents to be considered. Genes determine about 50 to 90 percent of the development of the disorder during pregnancy.

Daniele Fallin, a genetic eptimologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, however, suggests that we not just restrain the possibilities to that genetic predisposition. External factors- getting exposed to toxic chemicals, and/or having consumed medications like anti-depressants (while pregnant)- are also potential  high risk triggers for autism.


ASD and Anti-Depressants

Among the list of what a pregnant woman should avoid altogether is anti-depressants. Especially when it comes to a subtype of drugs which, according to researchers, increases the risk of deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although the link between this medication and ASD is minimal, there are red flags that specialists have noted.

Even if the chances are slim, one shouldn’t overlook the possibility of risk. Doctors have done thousands of studies of health records- out of them, some have shown the odds of having an autistic child doubling for women who took anti-depressants while pregnant.


Types of Anti-Depressants Associated with Autism

According to various diagnoses of autism, studies suggest that ASD is connected with thalidomide, a drug prescribed for morning sickness in the late 19th century- later found to cause serious birth defects.  We also have Valproate- a drug used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder- which is also linked to ASD when taken during pregnancy.


Two of the common types of anti-depressants taken during pregnancy are Zoflot and SSRI.

Zoloft (sertraline chloride) is one of the most popular SSRI antidepressants on the market. Zoloft is a comparatively safer alternative with, both, fewer side effects and withdrawal symptoms than Prozac. Though the disadvantages include the possibility of physical birth defects, birthing an autistic child, having suicidal thoughts, and undergoing withdrawal symptoms.

SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. They are usually taken for depression, aggression, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Of course, what side effects one goes through depends on which drug one is taking.

But, for other common drugs, such as antidepressants, an association with autism is harder to discern. Studies thus far have potential limitations, such as lack of adequate adjustment for maternal psychiatric illnesses and genetic predispositions for ASD. In addition, to our knowledge, no study had sufficient power to investigate the risk of ASD for each class of anti-depressants.


Other Factors That Could Risk Autism

Research done by way of improving autism support in Dubai tells us that anti-depressants may not be the underlying factor for every diagnosis of autism. In fact, some other studies present cases of an autistic child being born to a mother who already has a psychiatric illness. According to autism diagnoses, it’s rare for someone to be born with ASD due to anti-depressant intake; the medication simply may raise the possibility by a little.

Part of the problem is that women take anti-depressants for already existing mental health conditions. Therefore, if an association is found, the challenge is to make clear whether the reasons were the medications or genetics. “It’s very difficult to disentangle,” says Hilary Brown, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada.

Additionally, air pollution might also be linked to causing autism, but the details are hazy. At least 14 studies have suggested its association with autism. However, what confuses researchers is the fact that cigarette smoking, which contains many of the same chemicals as air pollution, is not associated with the condition.


Can Anti-Depressant Intake during Pregnancy Cause ASD?

With ASD, it’s difficult to tell the exact reason for the disorder- since medical professionals cannot test fetuses. External factors, like the environment or the drugs one takes may play a part in it, or it may be caused by genetics. Some experts have suggested that its an amalgamation of both. While ASD may be difficult to avoid, you can increase your odds of having a healthy baby and avoiding an autism diagnoses by living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular checkups.

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