A new study out of the University of Indiana, Harvard and two universities in Sweden looked at the affects moms taking anti-depressants during the first trimester of pregnancy might have on neurodevelopmental differences in their babies later in life.
The researches studied 1,580,629 children from 1996 to 2012 and found that there was no increase of autism or attention deficit disorder for children whose mothers took antidepressants in the first trimester. There also wasn’t a risk of lower birth weight. What they did find was a slight increase — 1.3 times the normal rate — in preterm births.
What makes this study remarkable is the number of children studied and the almost two decades they were studied. It also looked not just at the rates, but also compared siblings — those that had been exposed to anti-depressants and those that had not, to make sure there weren’t other factors.
“To our knowledge, this is one of the strongest studies to show that exposure to antidepressants during early pregnancy is not associated with autism, ADHD or poor fetal growth when taking into account the factors that lead to medication use in the first place,” said Brian D’Onofrio in a press release. He’s a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and led the study.
“Balancing the risks and benefits of using antidepressants during pregnancy is an extremely difficult decision that every woman should make in consultation with her doctor,” he said. “However, this study suggests use of these medications while pregnant may be safer than previously thought.”
Definitely talk to your doctor about what medications you’re taking before you’re pregnant, if you can, or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.