A 2011 article in Archives of General Psychiatry by L.A. Croen and a team of researchers from Kaiser Permanente (a large healthcare company), titled “Antidepressant use during pregnancy and childhood autism spectrum disorders.” examines the relationship between gestational exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil and developmental disorders like autism or congenital malformations.

Croen et al. (2011) write “The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has increased over recent years. Use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy also shows a secular increase in recent decades, prompting concerns that prenatal exposure may contribute to increased risk of ASD.”

In this “Population-based case-control study”, “Medical records were used to ascertain case children and control children and to derive prospectively recorded information on mothers’ use of antidepressant medications, mental health history of mothers, and demographic and medical covariates.”

In total, 298 ASD child-mother pairs “and 1507 randomly selected control children (and their mothers) drawn from the membership of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California.”

Results showed that “Prenatal exposure to antidepressant medications was reported for 20 case children (6.7%) and 50 control children (3.3%). In adjusted logistic regression models, we found a 2-fold increased risk of ASD associated with treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors by the mother during the year before delivery (adjusted odds ratio, 2.2 [95% confidence interval, 1.2-4.3]), with the strongest effect associated with treatment during the first trimester (adjusted odds ratio, 3.8 [95% confidence interval, 1.8-7.8]).”

This means that if mothers used SSRIs during the first trimester, the risk for autism was increased nearly four-fold.  

Importantly, the team also noted that “No increase in risk was found for mothers with a history of mental health treatment in the absence of prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.”

Croen (2011) concluded that “Although the number of children exposed prenatally to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in this population was low, results suggest that exposure, especially during the first trimester, may modestly increase the risk of ASD. The potential risk associated with exposure must be balanced with the risk to the mother or fetus of untreated mental health disorders. Further studies are needed to replicate and extend these findings.”

Since so many women have used SSRIs in pregnancy unaware of the risk for autism and birth defects due to a manufacturer’s failure to warn, thousands of SSRI birth defect lawsuits are currently being filed.

If you or a loved one used SSRIs and gave birth to a child with autism or a congenital malformation, your family may be entitled to significant financial compensation.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, contact our team of SSRI birth defect lawyers at the information provided below.  We have the experience, resources, and skills required to win the justice you deserve.  Call today and see how we can help.

(855) 452 – 5529


Our SSRI Birth Defects Lawsuit Information page is a great place to start if you have any questions about SSRIs and Birth Defects.