Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Antidepressant Use during Pregnancy May Increase Autism Risk

Loyola psychiatrist available to comment on study


Children whose mothers take certain antidepressants during pregnancy are twice as likely as other children to have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. This is the first study to examine the relationship between antidepressants and autism risk. This class of antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be especially risky early on in a pregnancy, the study suggests. Children who were exposed to the drugs during the first trimester were nearly four times as likely to develop an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with unexposed children. However, a Loyola University Health System psychiatrist believes that given the small study size, the risk may be overstated and that these findings should not dissuade women from starting or continuing to take these antidepressants during pregnancy until further research is done. “Antidepressants have been used safely in many pregnant women suffering from depression for more than 30 years,” said Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, medical director of psychiatry at Loyola University Health System. “The prevalence of autism is nowhere near in proportion to the number of women who take these antidepressants while pregnant.” MEDIA: A Loyola University Health System physician is available to comment on this study. Interested media can call Nora Plunkett in Media Relations at (708) 417-5014.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.