If you took the SSRI antidepressant Lexapro during pregnancy and your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), your child’s neurological disorder may have been caused by Lexapro. Common symptoms of ASD include problems with communication, social interaction, repetitive behaviors, attention span, and more. One study found that autism was twice as likely in children who were exposed to an SSRI antidepressant during fetal development.
What You Can Do & How a Lexapro Lawsuit Can Help
The Schmidt Firm, LLP is currently accepting Lexapro induced birth defect cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has had a child with autism caused by Lexapro, you may have a Lexapro lawsuit. You should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Lexapro Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Lexapro and Autism
Lexapro (escitalopram) is a popular prescription antidepressant medication that is sold by Forest Laboratories. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lexapro in 2002 to treat depression. It is also approved to treat certain severe, persistent anxiety disorders.
Since the 1987 approval of Prozac, the first SSRI antidepressant, millions of people have used antidepressant medications to treat psychiatric conditions. For women, depression is most likely to occur during the childbearing years, and approximately 10% of pregnant women take an antidepressant at some point during pregnancy. Antidepressant use has increased significantly in the last few decades, as have the rate of autism. Because SSRI antidepressants pass to a developing child, there is concern that the prevalent use of antidepressants during pregnancy could help explain the increased rate of autism.
Scientific Studies of Lexapro and Autism
There is no way to conclusively link Lexapro to autism. This is because it is unethical to conduct a well-controlled study. To do so, doctors would need to randomly select a group of pregnant women, and randomly give some women an SSRI or a placebo. This is unethical, because it would mean that some non-depressed women would expose their baby to an SSRI, and some depressed women would be deprived of their medication. For this reason, all studies of SSRI antidepressants are retrospective.
The most conclusive evidence linking the SSRIs to autism appeared in 2011, in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. In the study, doctors selected a group of women and children who were all members of one hospital in Northern California. Approximately 300 children had autism, and 1500 had no autism. Among the autistic children, 6.7% had been exposed to an SSRI during fetal development. However, only 3.3% of the non-autistic children were exposed to an SSRI. Based on this data, the researchers concluded that it was possible that fetal SSRI exposure could double the risk of autism.
Researchers have also conducted studies to discover a possible mechanism by which the SSRIs could cause autistic disorders. The studies were conducted in pregnant rats. The researchers discovered that fetal rats exposed to SSRIs at key phases of neurological development showed significant changes in brain circuitry that caused permanent behavioral changes. Another study of SSRIs in rats also found that the medications could cause permanent brain wiring defects, especially in the regions of the brain responsible for sensory systems and behavior.
What is Autism?
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is complex range of neurological and behavioral disorders, commonly referred to as “autism.” The severity of autism varies widely. However, almost all children with autism have some level of adaptive difficulties, especially problems with social interaction and communication. It is also very common for children with ASD to have problems with attention span, cognition, and repetitive behaviors.
There are several specific disorders that are on the autistic spectrum. These disorders include:
- Autistic disorder
- Rett syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS)
- Asperger syndome
Signs & Symptoms of Autism
Autism is most likely a congenital disorder, influenced by genetics or prenatal exposure to environmental toxins, though no one really knows. Although it is likely present from birth, autism is not usually diagnosed until the child is two or three years old. During this period of development, children normally start developing more complex communication and social interactions.
When a child has ASD, there are usually a common set of symptoms, which may include the following:
- Developmental delays, usually in communication and social behavior
- Delayed babbling, speaking, gesturing
- Lack of eye contact with caregivers
- Child does not respond to his or her name
- During play, the child lines up toys, is obsessive about certain orders
- The child may become very upset when the routine is changed
- Seems “disconnected”
- Prefers to play alone
- Little or no response to parental affection
- When the child is older, he or she is unable to understand non-verbal communication, sarcasm, body language, social cues
- Child has trouble forming complex sentences, maintaining a conversation
- Medical problems, which may include sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, sensory abnormalities, and more)
Treatment & Prognosis
The treatment for autism varies widely, because no two children with this disorder are exactly alike. When autism is diagnosed early, intervention and behavioral therapy can often significantly improve the child’s communication and behavioral skills. Long-term prognosis varies, depending on the type of disorder and its severity. Some children with autism become highly proficient in the arts, sciences, or other professions, especially professions that require a highly specialized depth of knowledge.
Do I have a Lexapro Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, LLP is currently accepting Lexapro induced birth defect cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know had a baby with autism after taking Lexapro, you should contact our Lexapro lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Lexapro Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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