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Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and autistic symptoms in young children: another red herring?

  • Irene Petersen, Stephen Evans and Irwin Nazareth
Summary

In this issue, El Marroun et al suggest an association between prenatal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) exposure and autistic traits in children, as well as an association with prenatal depressive symptoms. However, SSRIs may be mere markers of severity of underlying illnesses and it may be premature to reach such conclusions about effects of treatment. Studies like this raise concerns as this may fuel further anxiety and guilt among women who are faced with depression in pregnancy and possibly leave some women without treatment.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Irene Petersen, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK. Email: i.petersen@ucl.ac.uk
Footnotes
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See pp. 95–102 and 103–104, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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1 El Marroun, H, White, TJH, van der Knaap, NJF, Homberg, JR, Fernández, G, Schoemaker, NK, et al. Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and social responsiveness symptoms of autism: population-based study of young children. Br J Psychiatry 2014; 205: 95102.
2 Rutter, M. Incidence of autism spectrum disorders: changes over time and their meaning. Acta Paediatr 2005; 94: 215.
3 Blaxill, MF. What's going on? The question of time trends in autism. Public Health Rep 2004; 119: 536–51.
4 Demicheli, V, Rivetti, A, Debalini, MG, Di Pietrantonj, C. Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 2: CD004407.
5 Happé, F, Ronald, A. The “fractionable autism triad”: a review of evidence from behavioural, genetic, cognitive and neural research. Neuropsychol Rev 2008; 18: 287304.
6 Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium; Genetic Risk Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) Consortium. Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis. In Lancet 2013; 381: 1371–9.
7 Petersen, I, Gilbert, RE, Evans, SJW, Man, S-L, Nazareth, I. Pregnancy as a major determinant for discontinuation of antidepressants: an analysis of data from The Health Improvement Network. J Clin Psychiatry 2011; 72: 979–85.
8 Rai, D, Lee, BK, Dalman, C, Golding, J, Lewis, G, Magnusson, C. Parental depression, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy, and risk of autism spectrum disorders: population based case-control study. BMJ 2013; 346: f2059.
9 Croen, LA. Antidepressant use during pregnancy and childhood autism spectrum disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2011; 68: 1104.
10 Howerton, CL, Morgan, CP, Fischer, DB, Bale, TL. O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) as a placental biomarker of maternal stress and reprogramming of CNS gene transcription in development. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2013; 110: 5169–74.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and autistic symptoms in young children: another red herring?

  • Irene Petersen, Stephen Evans and Irwin Nazareth
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