Children of mothers who used anti-depressants during pregnancy are at increased risk of having speech or language disorders, warns a new study.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship between maternal anti-depressant use and speech/language, scholastic, and motor disorders in offspring," said one of the researchers Alan Brown, Professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Mothers who purchased anti-depressants at least twice during pregnancy had a 37-percent increased risk of speech and/or language disorders among their offspring compared to mothers with depression and other psychiatric disorders who were not treated with anti-depressants, the findings showed.
"We believe that our finding about children of mothers who purchased at least two SSRI prescriptions during pregnancy is particularly meaningful because these women are more likely to have taken these medications, and more likely to have been exposed for a longer period and to larger amounts of the SSRI in pregnancy, compared to women who filled only one prescription," Brown noted.
The speech/language disorders included expressive and receptive language disorders and those involving articulation of sounds.
"The study benefited from large sample population and followed the children beyond age three," Brown said.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- most commonly prescribed anti-depressants -- such as fluoxetine, citalopram, paroxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, and escitalopram may cross the placenta and enter the fetal circulation.
The researchers examined a sample of 845,345 single, live births between 1996 and 2010 taken from national registries in Finland.
The exposure groups were classified as mothers who purchased SSRIs once or more before or during pregnancy; those diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder one year before or during pregnancy but did not purchase anti-depressants; and mothers who neither purchased anti-depressants nor were given depression-related diagnoses.
In the whole sample, the risk of speech/language disorders was increased among offspring of mothers who used SSRI during pregnancy, showed the study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
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