Mothers who take antidepressants while pregnant are more likely to have children later diagnosed with autism, according to a review from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and several past studies. These drugs, known as SSRIs (or serotonin reuptake inhibitors), are some of the most popular prescriptions in the U.S. and they come with a host of horrific side effects. Potentially causing autism in children is only one reason why you should think twice before taking them.
About one-third of autistic children have elevated levels of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is, among other things, partially responsible for mood regulation and the ability to focus. It is the main target of the largest class of antidepressants known as SSRIs. Researchers with Johns Hopkins surmise that SSRIs taken during pregnancy and prior to pregnancy inhibit the baby’s brain from using and processing serotonin correctly, ultimately leading to what we know today as autism.
One-in-ten Americans are on antidepressants, many of them women. This research suggests any woman hoping to one day have children should seek alternatives if she is suffering from depression and taking antidepressants. In 2011, a study from Kaiser Permanente in Northern California found that mothers who had taken SSRIs during their first trimester of pregnancy were four times more likely to have a child with autism than mothers who didn’t take SSRIs at all.
Overall, those who took antidepressants at any time during pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to an autistic child. But it isn’t only antidepressants that mothers should be aware of, but the astronomical number of hormone-disrupting chemicals we encounter on a daily basis. In other words, this research linking SSRIs and high circulating serotonin levels with autistic children might be considered the canary in the coal mine.
The one consistent parallel with the dramatic increase in autism over the past few decades has been the dramatically increased use of these chemical toxins amongst our foods, water, air, vaccines, and living spaces. For mothers who are on antidepressants or who are looking for natural solutions to depression, an honest analysis of your diet and lifestyle may be in order. Research has shown exercise, for example, to be as effective as drugs in the treatment of depression. And exercise delivers relief without the side effects.