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Editorial
April 18, 2017

Disentangling Maternal Depression and Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy as Risks for Autism in Children

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Developmental Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 2BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 3School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton
JAMA. 2017;317(15):1533-1534. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3414

Over the past decade, scientific and public attention has focused on reports of an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder in children of depressed mothers treated with an antidepressant medication during pregnancy.1 However, evidence supporting an association between in utero exposure to antidepressant medications, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and adverse long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes remains inconclusive.2 Methodological constraints limit the ability to account for the effect of variations in severity of maternal depression, and randomizing exposure to an antidepressant medication during pregnancy would not be ethical.

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