Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, known as SSRIs, are the most common type of antidepressants prescribed to pregnant women. Yet a new studyindicates that when taken during pregnancy, the drugs are associated with a higher risk of language disorders, including dyslexia, in offspring.
The children of women who took SSRIs while pregnant have a 37% greater risk of speech or language disorders compared with the children of depressed but unmedicated mothers, the researchers say.
In practical terms, if a depressed mother did not take antidepressants, her child’s risk of being diagnosed with a speech or language disorder would be about 1%, but if she took an SSRI, it would increase to 1.37%, explained Dr. Alan Brown, lead author of the study and a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center.
“When you have relative risks that are 1.37, they’re considered to be low. But because so many people are exposed — 6% to 10% of mothers are exposed (to antidepressants) throughout the world — it’s increasing the public health burden,” Brown said, explaining that this burden amounts to more expenses.