A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy may increase the risk of development disorders such as autism.
Researchers tested the SSRI citalopram (marketed as Celexa®) on developing rats. They gave 200 rats citalopram during key stages of brain development. The rats were given the SSRI for approximately two weeks, starting 8 days before they were born. The neurodevelopment period used for testing the rats is equivalent to the third trimester and early infancy in humans.
According to researchers, the rat pups displayed brain and behavioral abnormalities characteristic of autism. For example, the researchers noted that the rat pups who received citalopram did not want to play with the other pups and displayed social behaviors as they got older. Researchers also noted that the pups lacked interested in new toys.
“These results demonstrate that rat pups, when exposed perinatally to SSRIs, exhibit behavioral traits often seen in ASD,” said Dr. Kimberly Simpson, the paper’s first author and UMMC associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences.
The study follows an epidemiologic study in humans that was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in July. The human study showed that women who took an SSRI antidepressant one year before getting pregnant ran twice the risk of having a child that developed autism.
Researchers say the rat study is a starting point and that women who become pregnant should not stop taking their antidepressants until they consult their doctors.
(Source: The university of Mississippi Medical Center)
For more information about risks associated with taking Celexa® when pregnant, contact a birth defect attorney today.