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New Research Suggests Connection Between SSRIs and Autism

Our Chicago brain injury lawyers are very familiar with the well-known developmental brain disorder known as autism. Over the past several decades awareness about the many variations of this condition has increased steadily. More and more families continue to be affected by the brain condition, leading many researchers scrambling to better understand what causes it and how it can be prevented. According to PubMed Health, autism affects the development of the brain areas that control social and communication skills. As a result, symptoms are usually not seen until social and communication skills are first noticed, when children are one and a half to three years old. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that autism is more commonly found in males than females, with upwards of four times as many boys suffering than girls.

Medical researchers are actively working to nail down the causes but as of yet nothing conclusive has been proven. It is known, however, that abnormal brain biology and brain chemistry functions are involved. Most suspect that a range of other factors combine to create the disorder. For one thing, genetics seem to play some role. Studies examining twins have found that identical twins are far more likely than fraternal twins or siblings to experience autism. Researchers have a variety of studies underway aimed at better understanding the various other causes of autism.

For example, this week the Health Jockey discussed a new study on the topics which was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research involved the effect of anti-depressants given during brain developmental stages on the resulting offspring. Down the road the results may lead to changes in the medications taken by expecting mothers or mothers trying to have a baby. The research was a joint effort between researchers at the University of Mississippi Centre and University of California. What they found was that rats which were given certain anti-depressants during particular phases of brain development eventually displayed problems like those faced by those suffering from autism. The drugs in question are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). One of the researchers involved in this latest effort believes that taking these during conception may increase risk of autism development. However, it is too early to yet make any concrete determinations.

To arrive at these results, the study used nearly 200 rats, exposing them to SSRIs during certain periods of brain development which would be similar to the first trimester and infancy of a human. The drug treatments lasted for two weeks, beginning eight days after their birth. The rats were then monitored and compared with a control group to determine the consequences of the drug use. That observation revealed that those rats given the SSRIs were less social and less playful than the control group counterparts. Also, this effect was more commonly seen in male rats-suggestive of the same characteristics of autism in humans. While encouraging, this research is just the tip of the iceberg. Those involved explained that “this study is a starting point and a lot more research needs to be done.” The next step, say the researchers, is examining human SSRI use. In particular, researchers plan on analyzing possible consequences of these drug uses in certain doses and at certain times to determine if any connection to brain problems, such as autism, can be seen.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys our proud to help individuals and families who have suffered harm in a variety of ways, from car accidents and medical malpractice to birth injuries and preventable brain accidents. Obviously not all injuries are the result of the preventable negligence of others. Yet, sadly in many more cases than most realize, if others had acted carefully on the road, in the hospital room, or elsewhere, a particularly serious injury may have been avoided. Also, as medical knowledge grows and more information is discovered related to the causes of certain problems, including developmental brain injuries like autism, then it will become necessary for those in a position to prevent the resultant harm take steps which may help lower the risk of the problem occurring.

If at any time you or a loved one suspects that they have not received the care to which you were entitled which may have prevents injury to you or a new child, please get in touch with our office to learn how we can help.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Connection Between Birth Defects and Antidepressants

Birth Injuries – Could There Be a Link to Autism?