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Use of Antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry indicates that mothers who were prescribed popular antidepressants during pregnancy are twice as likely as mothers who did not take the prescriptions to give birth to a child diagnosed with autism. The class of antidepressants in question are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which includes Zoloft, Prozac, Luvox, Celexa, Paxil, and their generic versions. Since medications pass through the placenta, the researchers believe that taking these antidepressants during pregnancy can impact the child’s brain development.

Dr. Lisa Croen led this study, which selected 300 children born with autism between 1995 and 1999, and compared their medical histories with 1,500 children without autism born during the same period. The results were conclusive: the mothers of 6.7 percent of the children born with autism were prescribed the antidepressants during pregnancy, compared to 3.3 percent mothers of the children born without autism. The results were even more stark among mothers exposed to antidepressants during the first trimester: their children were four times more likely to develop autism than children with no history of antidepressant prescription use during pregnancy.

The researchers decided to investigate the link between antidepressant during pregnancy and autism following a sharp rise in autism diagnoses in the decades since the first SSRI, Prozac, was approved in the United States in 1987. Croen notes that many children diagnosed on the autism spectrum share a family history of mental disorders, and abnormal levels of serotonin in the brain is a key symptom of children with autism. “Almost everybody getting an antidepressant has some mental health disorder, and our study adds to the body of knowledge that shows that a family history of mental health problems may be associated with autism” she says.

If your child was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, the use of popular antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft may have been a contributing factor. The antidepressants and autism lawyers at GJEL are currently investigating these cases, and our attorneys offer free consultation to parents who think this describes their situation.

Photo credit: Divine Harvester

  1. Elisabeth Metzidis

    Took Paxil during pregnancy, have a son with autism.

  2. GJEL


    Thank you for commenting. We will contact you to learn more shortly.


  3. Marge S

    After my first son was born I was on Celexa, switched to Prozac and was on Prozac the first part of the pregnancy, switched to Paxil for a short time & back on Prozac during the rest of the pregnancy. I had twins. One has Autism spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s) severe ADHD and sensory integration. His sister has ADD, and sensory integration and borderline Asperger’s. Would like more info! Thanks

  4. Dr. Allison Ashley

    I was on Prozac when I discovered I ws pregnant, stopped for first trimester & back on Prozac during the rest of the pregnancy. My son has Autism spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s- high functioning) ADHD and sensory integration dosprder. His sister has ADD, and sensory integration disorder. Would like more info! Thanks

  5. Cordelia

    I have seen on various reports that women who were pregnant and had a child born with autism may be entitled to compensation when they sign up with a lawyer. Their doctors who prescribed the medication told these women that it was safe and would not harm their unborn child, while in fact, it did more damage than good. Has anyone else seen advertising for this or news reports?


  6. Beckley

    @Cordelia: While the link between autism in children whose mothers took SSRIs during pregnancy is not yet perfect, many cases have been filed against the companies who produce the drugs for failing to properly warn doctors who prescribe them to pregnant women. You can read an update here:

    We are still accepting such cases. Please feel free to request a free consultation with a GJEL Accident Attorney, by calling 1-866-218-3776, or e-mailing us at

  7. laurie

    I was on fluoxetine 40 mgs, my daughter has had developmental delays since she was one . she didn’t do anything on time like other babies sit ,talk ,crawl ,walk .and was not potty trained till she was 4 .she has a phonological speech disorder ,adhd inattentive disorder. and still might have more things going on ,but won’t know till I get the papers back from childrens hospital.i can’t get anyone to watch because the keep saying she is to much to haddle.. help

  8. Denise

    I was on Zoloft both pregnancies 2007 and 2010 until the end, never warned and now both kids that they lost their dad have struggles and ADHD and ADD issues. Inattentive Disorder. HELP, Wish they would have told me. They are both on meds and seen many drs nothing is helping this single working mom>. Any advice.

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