Monthly Archives: July 2011

Autism Spectrum Disorders and SSRIs

It is now estimated that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect about 1% to 2% of the population.  Data derived from twin and sibling studies indicate that ASD is highly heritable.  While genetic factors clearly play an important role, other studies point to an interplay between environmental and genetic factors in the etiology of this disorder.  Over the years, various environmental exposures have been implicated, including vaccinations, mercury, and insecticides; however, it has been difficult to generate solid evidence linking specific environmental factors with increased risk for autism.

What is the Impact of Depression During Pregnancy?

In a recent study by Gerardin and colleagues, the authors note that more research has been done to demonstrate the consequences of postpartum depression than depression during pregnancy (also called antenatal or prenatal depression).  Infants born to mothers with depression during pregnancy have been demonstrated to have lower scores on motor behavior and more crying and irritability.  Few studies, however, have assessed the longer-term effects of antenatal depression.

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Fertility (Part 2): What Can Basic Science Tell Us?

Serotonin (5-HT) is one of the neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation and has been implicated in the development of mood and anxiety disorders.  Serotonin transporters (SERT) facilitate the transfer of serotonin into neurons; serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants bind to these transporters and appear to exert their effect on mood by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and thus increasing the levels of this neurotransmitter at the synapse.

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Fertility (Part 1): A Clinical Perspective

We previously reported that paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), may affect sperm motility and may thus have a negative impact on male fertility.  Many women who are planning a pregnancy question whether SSRIs and other antidepressants may affect fertility; this is obviously a particularly important issue for those who are having difficulty conceiving.