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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
While two new studies suggest a risk of child autism may not be associated with maternal depression and taking antidepressants, insights for future research about maternal depression and child development are suggested in an accompanying editorial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The editorial's authors note a comprehensive Swedish study (that uses population registry data) does not demonstrate antidepressant use is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes on children during the first trimester of pregnancy. The editorial's authors note childhood autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are considered as examples of neurodevelopment outcomes during pregnancy. However, the authors explain the Swedish study suggests there is an association between antidepressant use during pregnancy and a small increased risk of preterm birth.
The editorial's authors note a second, comprehensive Canadian study (published in the same issue of JAMA with the editorial), also fails to find an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder among children whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy compared to moms who did not take antidepressants.
The editorial's authors write (and we quote): 'Together, these 2 new studies add to a growing literature suggesting that the association between prenatal antidepressant medication exposure and autism spectrum disorder may not be causal. These data should reassure both parents and clinicians' (end of quote).
However, the editorial's authors emphasize the research also suggests (and we quote): 'the studies.... serve as a reminder that regardless of antidepressant treatment, children of mothers with depression remain at increased risk for developmental disturbances' (end of quote).
The editorial's authors add it is possible a broader association between child developmental challenges and maternal depression (and we quote): 'may not be directly related to maternal behavior or decision making about treatment' (end of quote).
To assist future research, the editorial's authors suggest researchers address the interactions among antidepressant use, maternal moods, genetic factors, and the environmental conditions during pregnancy. They write (and we quote): 'Identifying how maternal mood and related genetic and environmental factors shape development risk is needed, moving away from a focus on antidepressant medications alone and towards whether some mothers and their children might actually benefit from prenatal antidepressant treatment' (end of quote)
Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov's autism spectrum disorder health topic page is a gateway to updated, background information about autism and making parental decisions. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) provides a website with foundational information about autism that includes parental suggestions within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's autism spectrum disorder health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's autism spectrum disorder health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Clinical trials that may be occurring in your area can be found in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about autism spectrum disorder as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's autism spectrum disorder health topic page, please type 'autism' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'autism spectrum disorder (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus also has health topic pages devoted to childhood behavior disorders and child development.
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It was nice to be with you! Please join us here next week and here's to your health!