What Drugs & Chemicals Are Linked to Autism?

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Autism is a developmental disorder which affects the way people perceive, interact with and understand others. Doctors are still not able to pinpoint why some children develop autism while others do not. What they know for sure is that there are certain triggers in life which may cause an autistic child to become more vulnerable.

Autism is a complex disorder that has many causes. One of the common causes is exposure to drugs and chemicals in early life. Here are some examples of drugs and chemicals linked to autism. Read more in detail here: drugs list.


According to researchers, genetic factors account for more than 80% of autism risk, but the environment also plays a role. If a child’s genes are predisposed to autism, exposure to the correct chemical or medicine might set off a chain reaction that results in autism.

It’s vital to stay away from triggers when pregnant. The brain of a kid grows fast in the womb, and any damage done here might result in autistic symptoms.

We’ll go through some of the most frequent drugs associated to autism development in this article, including:

Use this information to discuss with your doctor what you should avoid while pregnant in order to reduce your child’s chance of autism.

When Does Autism Start to Show Up?

Preventing autism starts even before your kid is born. While research on autism is still ongoing, the majority of specialists think that the illness originates in the womb.

The medications and substances a woman consumes may alter the environment in which her baby develops. Changes in autism may occur as a result of these adjustments.

Exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy, according to experts, may cause DNA abnormalities. These alterations may affect how a fetus’s brain grows. The injury is irreversible after delivery and lasts the rest of the child’s life.

A child’s brain creates 250,000 neurons each minute throughout pregnancy. Anything that disrupts those connections has the potential to permanently affect your baby’s brain. Even if you don’t notice any changes until after your kid is delivered, the harm has already been done. You’ll assume something went wrong if your youngster doesn’t speak or walk later in life.

Autism may be detected in youngsters as early as one year old, according to researchers. Doctors usually don’t detect the illness until a kid has grown and changed, although the issue is there long before symptoms arise.

When it comes to avoiding harmful medications and chemicals, it’s important to remember the health of the mother during pregnancy. It may be too late to alter a child’s growing brain by the time he or she is born. The decisions a mother takes while she is pregnant may assist to reduce the risk of her kid developing autism.

Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant

Pregnancy is a period of immense excitement and expectation for many women. Others experience fear and worry as surging hormones and a growing feeling of responsibility collide. Women may acquire Depression during pregnancy, and women who have had Depression for a long period can also get pregnant.

Depression is a severe condition that may be treated. To aid their patients, doctors utilize a broad range of drugs. Autism has been related to several of these drugs.

Researchers in Europe looked at published articles that included the following keywords:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are drugs that block the reuptake of serotonin (or its known acronym, SSRI)

  • ASD (autism spectrum disease) is a (or its known acronym, ASD)

  • Pregnancy

  • Childhood

  • Children

  • Neurodevelopment

They analyzed all of the data from these trials and discovered a substantial link between SSRIs and the risk of autism.

Women who were taking these medications were apprehensive. Should they try a different medication? The solution isn’t simple. Women must do the following in order to modify their medications:

  • Consult their physicians. They must reveal how they are now feeling, how long they have been using SSRIs, and how they felt before starting therapy.

  • Reduce their dose gradually. Stopping SSRIs suddenly might result in a relapse of Depression. Stopping usage in a gradual manner is more effective.

  • Begin taking a new drug. Doctors must choose a similar medicine and begin treatment at a safe dosage.

  • Adjust the dosage if necessary, or try again. A new drug may provide rapid comfort for some people. Others will have to explore until they discover the appropriate match that provides effective outcomes with minimal adverse effects.

This procedure might take weeks or even months to complete. Women who are already expecting a baby may not have enough time to finish all of the steps before the baby comes. Some scholars question whether the alarm is justified.

Antidepressants were also related to autism in a 2015 Canadian research. By the age of six or seven, fewer than 1% of the 150,000 infants in this research had acquired autism.

Because the risk is so tiny, and the recognized harms of untreated Depression are so great, some physicians believe women should keep taking the medications that help them. They advise that doing so is the finest method to assist a newborn. Untreated Depression leads to underweight newborns and, in certain circumstances, attempts at suicide by mothers.

Furthermore, antidepressant research is observational. This entails the following groups:

  • Choose two groupings. Antidepressants are used by one group and not by the other.

  • Keep a tight eye on them. Throughout the research time, they maintain track of each group of participants.

  • Assume something. If differences between the two groups emerge, they are linked to antidepressant usage.

This kind of research does not establish causation. It’s conceivable that autism was caused by Depression rather than the medicine, but this fact is often muddled and lost in translation. Researchers just don’t know how antidepressants could assist or damage growing newborns unless twin trials are conducted.

Taking Acetaminophen While Pregnant

In every American medical cabinet, you’ll find bottles of acetaminophen stashed among the bandages, prescription drugs, and toothpaste. When we experience aches and pains, we take acetaminophen to help us feel better. Some experts advise pregnant women to avoid using these tablets.

In 2019, researchers examined the cord blood of women taking Taking Acetaminophen While Pregnant. It’s an interesting technique, as acetaminophen metabolizes quickly, so detecting the substance in the blood isn’t easy. But seeing it helped the researchers understand how much of the element moves from mom to baby. They found that higher exposure leads to higher autism risks.

This kind of dose-dependent connection suggests that dangers and usage are inextricably linked. The more a mother uses, the greater the risk of injury to her fetus.

The researchers, on the other hand, advise caution. Their research does not establish that acetaminophen is linked to autism. It’s unclear how the medicine affects brain growth. They’d want other teams to perform further research so that those difficult issues may be answered.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States closely monitors research like these, and when concerns emerge, the agency issues guidelines to assist customers in making informed choices. For the time being, they warn that uncontrolled discomfort might create serious complications in pregnant women, such as:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Blood pressure that is too high

Women and their doctors should weigh the risks and benefits of using drugs like Taking Acetaminophen While Pregnant, the FDA says. For now, the agency doesn’t ban the use of this substance during pregnancy due to autism risks.

Taking Asthma Medicines While Pregnant

During pregnancy, women take two breaths. Every breath women take provides oxygen to their bodies, but their infants also depend on those breaths for health and growth.

Asthma causes inflammation in the lungs, making breathing difficult. Without medicine, people with asthma may wheeze or gasp for breath. Drugs used to treat asthma symptoms in women may sometimes transfer down the umbilical cord to unborn newborns, raising worries about autism.

In 2016, Drexel University researchers discovered that infants born to mothers who used B2AR medications for asthma during pregnancy had a higher risk of autism than their counterparts.

Other experts noticed flaws in the research, such as:

  • The gathering of information. The researchers only looked at prescriptions that were filled, not the medications that were taken.

  • Problems with observation. This research searched for links without establishing a cause and effect relationship.

  • Asthma severity levels. Women who take these medicines may have more severe symptoms than women who do not. Lower prenatal oxygen levels might result, which could contribute to autism.

  • Environmental considerations are important. The researchers didn’t include information about the women’s homes or what other autism triggers they were exposed to on a regular basis. As a result, a significant amount of data is lost.

Other research, including one published in 2019, identified links between asthma severity and autism, even when medication was not used. According to this research, asthmatic mothers should utilize effective treatments to safeguard their unborn children. They should also consult their physicians to determine which drug will be most effective.

Pregnancy and Valproic Acid

Seizures are electrical storms in the brain that may be fatal to pregnant mothers and their unborn children. Valproic acid is an anti-seizure drug that might be prescribed to a woman. However, this medication may raise the chance of autism.

In a large study conducted in 2015, researchers found risks of autism were significantly increased when women took Pregnancy and Valproic Acid. These results have been replicated in studies performed with animals.

For the time being, it’s ideal for women with seizure disorders to work out treatment regimens with their physicians before becoming pregnant. Another option might help them lower their chance of having an episode while also safeguarding their child’s growing brain.

Pregnancy and Drugs

Women have access to a wide range of chemicals, both legal and illegal, and many of them may pass from a mother’s body to her child. Cocaine and opiates are two drugs that autism experts are concerned about.

  • Cocaine: 11.4 percent of 70 infants exposed to cocaine during pregnancy had autism, according to a tiny research. Furthermore, 94 percent of these youngsters exhibited some kind of language impediment. Cocaine is easily passed down from mother to kid and affects brain chemistry. Based on research like these, it seems that the medicine has a harmful impact on a child’s brain.

  • Opioids are powerful pain relievers that may assist patients with chronic ailments like back injuries or foot difficulties. According to a research, women who received opioid prescriptions shortly before becoming pregnant were 2.5 times more likely to have a child with autism than moms who did not. People who took these medications without a prescription were not examined by the researchers.

Before using any of these medicines, women should always see their physicians. If a woman is addicted to opioids, she should get therapy before becoming pregnant so that her body can recover before giving birth.

There are options for women who get pregnant unexpectedly while abusing opioids. Consult a doctor right away. Stopping opioids abruptly may be risky to both the mother and the baby if the body is physiologically reliant on them. If necessary, doctors may oversee the withdrawal procedure to guarantee everyone’s safety.

Other sorts of assistance are required for pregnant women who are battling with drug usage in addition to medical treatment. Treatment for addiction is required to safeguard the mother’s and her child’s safety.

During Pregnancy, There Are Environmental Risks

Many of the poisons that women should avoid are in the form of pills or needles. Some, on the other hand, remain in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

According to Autism Speaks, pregnant women should avoid the following environmental risks:

For some women, lowering their risk is as simple as getting up and exercising. A mother’s exposure to pesticides and lead might be reduced if she moved from an apartment with old paint that was close to a field.

A discussion with their doctor makes sense for other ladies. You may be exposed to hazards you aren’t aware of, and a doctor can assist you in determining the best course of action.

While autism cannot be completely avoided, pregnant women and their families may take actions to reduce their risk.


A multinational study suggests that genes are responsible for the majority of autism risk. (Aug. 2019) Spectrum.

Is autism a condition that you are born with or that develops through time? (Updated October 2013). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about

The Influence of Pregnancy on a Child’s Autism (December 2018). Spectrum.

Autism Starts Months Before Symptoms Show Up, According to a New Study (February 2017). Scientific American is a publication dedicated to science.

A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review Shows That Maternal SSRI Exposure Increases the Risk of Autistic Offspring. (Updated September 2017). Psychiatry in Europe.

Antidepressants and Autism in Pregnancy (December 2015). Scientific American is a publication dedicated to science.

Systematic Review of Observational Studies and Methodological Considerations on Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (January of this year). BMC Medicine is a journal dedicated to the study of medicine.

Prenatal acetaminophen use has been linked to autism and attention deficit in children. (Updated November 2019) Spectrum.

Taking Tylenol while pregnant has been linked to an increased risk of autism and ADHD. (Updated November 2019) Johns Hopkins University is a research university in Baltimore, Maryland.

FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Has Considered Pain Medicine’s Potential Risks During Pregnancy. (In January of 2015) FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States.

Anti-asthma medications used during pregnancy are linked to an increased risk of autism (January 2016). ScienceDaily.

Is There a Link Between Asthma and Autism? Allergy and Asthma Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with allergies and asthma.

A Population and Family-Based Case-Control Study of Parental Asthma and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring. (In February of this year). Allergy, both clinical and experimental

Valproic Acid is a kind of valproic acid (April 2015). The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists is a professional organization of pharmacists who work in health-care settings.

Valproate exposure during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorders and childhood autism (April 2013). The American Medical Association’s journal.

The Effects of Prenatal Valproic Acid Exposure in Socially Monogamous Prairie Voles (2019). Scientific Reports is a publication that publishes research findings.

Children With Perinatal Cocaine Exposure Have Autism and Developmental Abnormalities (April 1992). The National Medical Association’s journal.

Opioids prescribed just before pregnancy have been linked to autism (August 2019). The CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Avoiding During Pregnancy, There Are Environmental Risks. (April 2012). Autism Speaks.

Pregnancy complications may increase the risk of autism. (2018, August). Spectrum.

Is It Possible to Prevent Autism During Pregnancy? Parents.

A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study of Pregnancy Outcomes in Women With Autism (November 2018). Clinical Epidemiology is the study of how people become sick.

How a Mother’s Pregnancy Can Influence a Child’s Autism (December 2018). Spectrum.

A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Pregnancy Risk Factors for Autism (July 2009). The British Journal of Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed journal published in the United Kingdom.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Linked to Prenatal Medication That Affects Neurotransmitter Systems. (As of December 2018) JAMA Psychiatry is a journal published by the American Medical Association.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain. There are many drugs and chemicals that can cause autism, but there are also some that have been linked to it. Reference: drug use.

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