An extensive study of close to a million Danish children is sending a significant warning to female antidepressant users.
According to Xiaoqin Liu, a Danish-based researcher, antidepressant use during pregnancy can increase the risk of psychiatric disorders later in the child’s life. The study, published in BMJ-British Medical Journal, was one of the biggest of its kind, with 905,383 children participating between 1998 to 2012.
A team of researchers, led by Liu, aimed at studying the potential adverse effects of antidepressant treatments of pregnant users. In the sample of 905,383 children, they were divided into the following four groups.
The first group had not been exposed to antidepressants in the womb; the second one tested antidepressant use leading up to pregnancy; the third one looked at antidepressant use both before and during the pregnancy; and lastly, the fourth group consisted of new users of antidepressants during the pregnancy.
Additionally, in the study, hereditary traits were looked at by researchers as a factor in determining which children would be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
Researchers concluded that there was an increased number of children with psychiatric disorders in the group in which antidepressants were used during pregnancy.
“Approximately twice as many children were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder in group 4 (14.5%) than in group 1 (8%). In groups 2 and 3 respectively, 11.5% and 13.6% were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder at age 16 years,” the study reads.
The study suggested autism isn’t the only heritable psychiatric disorder, but that depression, anxiety, and ADHD-like symptoms are possible long after a child is born.
“These women should not feel guilty about taking antidepressants. Even though there is an increased risk of the child developing a psychiatric disorder later in life, our research shows that we cannot blame medication alone. Heritability also plays a part,” said Trine Munk-Olsen, one of the lead researchers.