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Antidepressant Exposure May Increase ASD Risk

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on November 11, 2011


Overview: Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center examined the effect of antidepressant use during fetal development in rat pups.


Background: A common target for antidepressant medications, Serotonin, is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness—but serotonin also plays an important role during early brain development.


What's new: The researchers report  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online edition that rat pups exposed to antidepressants shortly before and after birth exhibit abnormal brain features and social behaviors similar to those seen in children with autism.


Why it's important: The study’s findings support the need to examine if human exposure to antidepressants during fetal development is a risk factor for the development of autism.


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