Lawsuits against manufacturers of anti-depressants have been filed in all 50 states following a study that found children whose mothers took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil and Zoloft during pregnancy were twice as likely to have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder.

However, the jury is still out on whether the medical evidence points to causation, meaning the drugs directly increase the likelihood of autism, or correlation, which would mean women who exhibit symptoms of depression, and are therefore prescribed SSRIs, are more likely to give birth to children with a disorder on the autism spectrum. Said one of the landmark study’s authors, Dr. Lisa Croen, “we can’t detect causality from one study.”

What we know is that SSRIs affect the level of serotonin in the brain, and abnormal levels of serotonin are an important symptom of children with autism.

While it is not entirely conclusive, the Kaiser Permanente study is just one of many that have pursued a link between pregnant women taking SSRIs and various birth defects. The authors of this particular study were interested in SSRIs and autism because of the role that serotonin appears to play in the disorder. The fact that children whose mothers took SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy were four times more likely to develop a disorder on the autism spectrum is consistent with the theory that taking SSRI’s while pregnant is responsible for higher autism rates.

Still, a variety of environmental factors, including the mother’s own natural serotonin levels, are believed by many to be the primary factor in the development of autism in children.

Even though not all the evidence is concrete, many lawsuits have been filed over the years alleging drug companies failed to warn doctors about the risks SSRIs pose to pregnant women and their children. GJEL has fielded and continues to field such suits for California residents whose pregnancies have been negatively impacted by taking SSRIs.

We welcome your inquiries, and will deliver more information about the link between autism and SSRIs like Paxil and Zoloft as it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Be.Futureproof

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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.