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The Possible Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Newborn Disabilities

A recent study by the Bloomberg School of Health suggests a link between specific psychiatric medications and developmental disabilities among male babies. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to treat psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and depression. According the study findings, which are being reported in Science Daily, boys are at a higher risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) when their mothers were prescribed these medications during pregnancy. Researches reportedly observed close to 1000 women and their children. The group was broken into three subgroups: children with ADS; children with DD; and children who are developing in a typical manner.

According to researchers, the mother’s of boys with ASD were nearly three times more likely to have been prescribed SSSRIs during their pregnancies. Additionally, the greatest risk occurred when the medications were taken during the first trimester. Higher exposure levels were also reportedly found among boys with DD, with the greatest risk occurring with third trimester medication prescriptions. Researchers explained that serotonin is an essential aspect of brain development. Exposure to SSRIs in the womb can alter the serotonin levels, possibly affecting the progression of the fetus.

The Frequency and Cost of ASD

ADS is on the rise among newborns and young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in every 68 children is diagnosed with ASD. Its symptoms can reportedly vary from speech impediments to extensive developmental disabilities, like autism or cerebral palsy. The CDC advises that diagnosis of ASD largely begins with the observations of the parents. Signs of developmental disabilities may become noticeable in babies as young as six months in age. Problems with vision and hearing were generally reported closer to the first birthday, along with communication and motor skill delays.

The cost of raising a child with ASD can cause financial challenges for a family. According to the CDC:

It costs about $17,000 more per year to raise a child with ASD. These extra costs encompass medical care, counseling, and family support services.

That number increases to $21,000 per year for families raising children with severe ASD.

Yearly medical costs for children with ASD are between four and six times greater than costs for children without ASD.

These findings can create a difficult challenge for pregnant women. The National Institute of Health reports that instances of depression among women are highest during the childbearing years of life. Women who are already dealing with particularly stressful home lives or financial situations may feel overwhelmed by their pregnancies. In addition, the biological changes that accompany pregnancy can cause negative effects on the section of the brain that controls the mood. According to the NIH, some studies support a link a between prenatal depression and complications during delivery. Physicians have a responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of SSRIs during pregnancy before prescribing these medications. Women trust them to make a decision that protects the mother, as well as the newborn. When a doctor falls short of this responsibility, malpractice is an issue for consideration by the courts.

If you were prescribed a psychotropic medication during pregnancy and your child is demonstrating developmental disabilities, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

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