Taking meds during pregnancy brings autism risk, benefits
For a pregnant woman, the factors that can raise autism risk in her unborn child may seem to abound. Studies suggest that getting the flu, having a fever orgaining too much weight while pregnant can all boost the odds of having a child with autism. Certain medications may also raise the risk. For instance, pregnant women who take the epilepsy drug valproate are up to seven times more likely to have a child with autism than those who don’t.
In the past three months, studies have linked three more types of pills to autism risk: antidepressants, acetaminophen and a class of asthma drugs. Mothers-to-be who take these drugs may as much as double their risk of having a child with autism.
Still, the absolute risk of autism remains small — an important point thatsometimes gets lost in the alarmist media coverage of these studies. Going off necessary medications can be risky, too. That’s why some experts are urging caution in interpreting the results.