According to a new study from Columbia University, women who take antidepressants during their pregnancy are at a far greater risk for having children who later develop speech disorders.
The results of this research was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry.
The study looked at data in Finland for 14 years, and found that women diagnosed with depression who filled a prescription for antidepressants at least twice during their pregnancy had a 37% higher chance of their child developing a speech disorder than children born to mothers with depression who did not take antidepressants.
Children whose mothers took antidepressants were also 63% more likely to develop a speech or language disorder than those born to mothers who did not have depression nor took antidepressants.
It was also found that the more antidepressants a woman took, and the more severe her psychiatric diagnosis, the more likely it was that her child would develop a speech disorder.
Researchers say that the number of antidepressants a woman was given during her pregnancy did raise the risk in a way that was statistically significant, though it was not a huge rise.
Professor Alan Brown, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who led the study stated:
“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 says that the SSRIs get absorbed by the placenta, which then, in turn, is absorbed by the developing child.
One downfall of the study, Brown confirms, is that researchers are unable to confirm whether or not the women took the medication after they fulfilled the prescription.
“The strengths of our study include the large, population based birth cohort, prospective data on SSRI purchases during pregnancy, a comparison group of mothers with depression who were not taking antidepressants, and an extensive national register database that included other known confounders.
However the severity of maternal depression cannot be ruled out as an explanation for the increased childhood speech and language disorders among mothers who filled more than one SSRI prescription, and further study is warranted.”