Antidepressants during pregnancy may affect babies’ language comprehension
A new study suggests that babies born to women who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy to treat depression may be better able to grasp and understand sights and sounds of language. However, previous studies have shown that the drugs can put babies at risk for serious birth defects, prematurity, learning difficulties, developmental delays, behavioral problems, and autism.
The new study was conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia, Harvard University and the Child & Family Research Institute, and focused on babies born to pregnant women who suffered from depression. Some of the women took SSRIs, while others remained untreated. Researchers compared these women with pregnant women who were not depressed and not taking antidepressants.
According to the researchers, cognitive development – specifically the ability to understand language – begins before the baby is born and lasts until about eight months after the baby is born. Once past this stage, babies stop paying attention to sounds they do not need and lose the ability to discern between verbal clues that are not utilized.
The data showed that babies born to mothers who took SSRIs while pregnant were able to attune to speech differences earlier than babies born to depressed women who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy and babies born to women who were not depressed while pregnant. Previous research has shown that this learning period predicts vocabulary acquisition later in life.
Researchers say that other factors may also accelerate or delay this language learning window and more studies should be conducted to confirm the results. Plus, previous studies have shown that taking SSRIs during pregnancy can cause numerous problems. Several lawsuits have been filed against the makers of these drugs by women who say they were not adequately warned about the serious health problems SSRIs could cause for developing fetuses.
Source: Fox News
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