New research shows a link between antidepressant use during pregnancy and psychiatric disorders in children. The study, conducted by the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University in Denmark, included more than 900,000 children born in Denmark from 1998 through 2012. The psychiatric disorders present in the affected children include mood, anxiety, behavioral or autism spectrum disorders.
In total, only about 3% of children studied developed a psychiatric illness by age 16. Almost twice as many children (14.5%) were diagnosed with a psychiatric illness if their mother took antidepressants during pregnancy. Only 8% of those whose mothers were not taking antidepressants were diagnosed.
Continued Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Linked to Higher Rates of Psychiatric Disorders
However, there was a clear difference between children whose mothers took antidepressants before pregnancy but not while pregnant, and those who continued to take them during pregnancy. Children whose mothers continued antidepressant use during pregnancy were 27% more likely to end up with a psychiatric disorder, compared to children whose mothers stopped during pregnancy
It is important to note that research has also shown a link between mothers with untreated depression and children with an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. Thus, it remains unclear whether a child’s risk is more closely tied to a mother’s existing mental illness, or the medications prescribed to treat it. Regardless, depression itself is serious and poses a danger to a mother and her child if untreated.
“This study is a good start to understanding the risks associated with taking antidepressants during pregnancy. However, more research is needed in order to weigh the risks and benefits,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
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