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UC Davis Finds Link Between Autism, Mental-Health Drugs During Pregnancy

DAVIS (CBS13) — UC Davis researchers have found a link between certain mental-health drugs taken during pregnancy and autism.

Amy Konold is expecting her second daughter in July, but this pregnancy came with more stressors than it did when she carried 2-year-old Reese.

"I talked to my doctor, and she recommended that I go on anti-anxiety just to cope with everything," she said.

She was reluctant to take it, but after weighing the benefits and risks, she decided it was best for her and her unborn baby.

"I didn't think it was healthy for the baby to feel my constant stress," she said.

New research by the UC Davis MIND Institute links pregnant moms who take anxiety and depression medications called selective serotonin reputake inhibitors to children with a higher risk of autism and developmental delays.

Professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto headed up the study, which focused more on the connection between the drugs and autism in boys. That's because boys are four times more likely to have it than girls.

"Our data seems to suggest it's more risky for boys, but that doesn't mean that there couldn't be some increased risk for girls," she said.

But it's not time for parents to panic, she said, since much of current autism research points to a number of risk factors leading to a child's diagnosis.

"We've published other findings for example, related to nutritional factors, exposures to air pollution," she said.

Konold is content with her decision to take anxiety medications, and says the decision will be different for every mom.

"I'm much more able to stay calm, and I think be a better wife and mother because of it," she said.

By the way, Konold wasn't a part of the UC Davis study. She's married to one of our producers at CBS13.

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