Prenatal Exposure to SSRIs Significantly Increases Autism & Developmental Delays


Research on 966 mother-child pairs from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study finds that prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly 3 times as likely in children with autism spectrum disorder. Exposure was more than 3 times as likely among boys with development delay, and nearly five times as likely when the exposure was in the third trimester. Results appeared yesterday in Pediatrics.

Harrington, R., Lee, L., Crum, R., Zimmerman, A., Hertz-Picciotto, I.; Prenatal SSRI Use and Offspring With Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay. Pediatrics. Online April 14, 2014

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Hi,

    My son has a form of autism. While I was not on SSRIs during my pregnancy with him 19 years ago, I was prescribed Phenergan for severe morning sickness for 5 months of my pregnancy. I was assured that it was not going to affect my pregnancy or child and was used “all the time.” Looking back, I am so sorry that I believed this, since 90% of the drugs women are prescribed during pregnancy are not even tested for safety. This is an outrage.

    Where is the FDA? …is there anything we can do to get this message out to people?

    How can drug companies sell drugs to pregnant women when they have not even gathered data on the meds’ effects on the developing fetus. I would be glad to share the effects that Phenergan seemed to have on my son with anyone wanting to study this.


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