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Taking antidepressants when pregnant may up language disorder risk in baby

The children of women who take antidepressants when pregnant are more likely to suffer from speech and/or language disorders, claim researchers.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 14, 2016 16:48 IST
Antidepressant,Pregnancy,Language Disorders
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy could increase the risk of speech and/or language disorders in children according to new US research.(Istock)

The children of women who take antidepressants when pregnant are more likely to suffer from speech and/or language disorders, claim researchers.

The study, carried out by a team of researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center, is believed to be the first to look at a possible association between taking SSRI antidepressants while pregnant and speech/language, scholastic, and motor disorders in children.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are being increasingly used during pregnancy, where they cross the placenta and enter the foetal circulation.

To look at the effect of their use the team used a large sample of 845,345 single, live births between 1996 and 2010 taken from national registries in Finland.

The children born fell into three different groups: 15,596 were in the exposed group, whose mothers had purchased SSRIs once or more before or during pregnancy; 9,537 were in unmedicated group, whose mothers who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder one year before or during pregnancy but did not purchase SSRIs during pregnancy; and 31,207 were in the unexposed group, whose mothers had not been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness and had no history of purchasing SSRIs.

As exposure to SSRI was greater for mothers who made more than one SSRI purchase during the pregnancy, the team also looked at how two or more purchases of SSRIs could also affect the risk of speech/language disorders.

The results showed that children of mothers who purchased SSRIs at least twice during pregnancy had a 37% increased risk of speech and/or language disorders when compared to mothers who had depression and other psychiatric disorders but who were not treated with antidepressants, although this group also showed an increased risk.

Although purchasing the antidepressants didn’t mean they were necessarily taken, the team believe that making at least two purchases made it more likely that the SSRIs were taken. In addition, previous studies have also already shown correlations between data from prescription registries and self-reported use of antidepressants.

One of the study’s authors Dr. Alan Brown, noted that the study had many strengths, including its large sample size, the prospective data on SSRI purchases during pregnancy, and a comparison group of mothers with depression who were not taking antidepressants, but also added that the severity of depression could also be the reason for the association, and more research is needed.

The results can be found published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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First Published: Oct 14, 2016 16:47 IST