Common drugs in autism link

Right now, some 30 million Americans are taking antidepressant drugs like SSRIs -- including many pregnant women, some of whom haven't even heard the good news yet.

I wish them only the best.

But what I really wish is that they'd get off those drugs fast (or not take them in the first place), because antidepressants have the potential to turn one of life's greatest blessings into one of its biggest challenges.

That's because these meds, already proven to cause pregnancy complications and even miscarriage, have now been linked to something else: autism.

The biggest risk comes from taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, such as Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. The risk is so high that boys with autism are three times more likely to have come from moms on the meds than healthy boys.

That's in line with a 2011 study that found boys exposed to these drugs in the womb have double the risk of autism.

The new study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs finds other risks, too. Boys born to moms who take SSRIs also have a higher risk of developmental delays.

The study didn't find the same risk in girls, but that could be because more than 80 percent of the children in the study were boys. The researchers say they'll need to do a study with more girls to establish those risks.

What's especially disturbing about this new study is that it finds the risk is highest in the critical first trimester -- or that time when many women who are pregnant often don't even realize it yet.

That's why it's critical that you stop taking these meds if you are trying to become pregnant.

Truth is, you almost certainly never needed the drugs in the first place, because there are safe and natural ways to help lift your mood that work whether you're pregnant or not.

I always recommend fish oil first. The natural omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help support your brain and improve your mood. Like drugs, fish oil can also cross the placenta -- but instead of causing harm, they can actually help baby's development.

Just be sure to get fish oil from a maker you trust, and choose one that's been purified to remove contaminants such as mercury, which can also hurt your baby's development.