Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Has Been Linked to ADHD Risk​

Pregnant moms battling depression ... take a deep breath. According to a new Massachusetts General Hospital study, the increased autism risk associated with antidepressant use is likely due to the depression, not the drugs. Hopefully, that will give you a sigh of relief. 

That said, the same study found that exposure to antidepressants in the womb is linked with much higher rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids. We're talking an 80 percent increased risk of ADHD if mom takes antidepressants while pregnant.

Those findings are jarring, yes. Definitely worth filing it away in your mind. But don't panic just yet. 


According to researchers, the ADHD findings are strong ... but they are "preliminary." More work needs to be completed before they're comfortable giving us "definite answers." Since researchers can't conduct clinical trials of antidepressant use during pregnancy (assigning medications or placebos would be unethical in this scenario), they have to rely on medical records to determine if a mom's mental illness or medication may have played a role in her child's diagnosis of ADHD or autism. 

More from The Stir: Depression During Pregnancy: What Moms Need to Know

For this study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers examined anonymous medical records comparing 1,377 children diagnosed with autism and 2,243 diagnosed with ADHD with a group of kids without any behavioral disorders. They also examined moms' medical records and found that those diagnosed with mental illness were 45 percent more likely to give birth to a child who later developed autism ... regardless of whether they took antidepressants during pregnancy.

So, what does this all mean? Without "definitive findings," moms should keep talking to their doctors about taking antidepressants while pregnant. They know you, and they know what's going on when it comes to the research. Have an open discussion and make your decisions together. Remember, a 2006 study found that women who went off antidepressants during pregnancy had a five times greater risk of depression relapse. Moms ... we matter, too.

Are you concerned about taking antidepressants while pregnant? Did you stop or change your dose?

Image via © Sandra Seckinger/Corbis

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