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Autism and SSRIs–When Research Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story
And Blaming Moms for their kids’ Autism is sad but nothing new
It’s time to play a game. It’s called the ‘blame game’ and it goes something like this:
- Some study is released
- News agencies say oooooh, let’s make that a better headline.
- You know what makes a better headline? A better lead?
- You know it–the most controversial results you can pull from that study (the ones that don’t really mean all that much).
- Don’t forget the tweets:
So we talked on Twitter and My buddy above, ? the fine @OMom22, and a few other mommies and a daddy too (!) laughed about this newest game of Refrigerator Mom Syndrome – you know the one game guaranteed to blame the mom for anything and everything that could happen to her kid(s). We were sarcastic and raucus and maybe even a little vulgar, and we made light of yet one more thing that pointed to something *we* could have done to make our kids the way they are.
|We even came up with our own hashtags:|
Here’s the thing, in dealing with our own insecurities and fear and anger and yes, even guilt, we were using that age-old technique called humor. But the real story is what we couldn’t contain to 140 characters.
Autism Studies: When the Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story
There’s a danger in reading a news story, which in effect is condensing a study that might have been dozens or even hundreds of pages long. That danger is in not recognizing that the study is part of a process. Research studies are usually to study a significant question–not to solve it, but to help explain it, unravel it. In this study, if you read the details you will realize it literally boils down to 20 kids in a study of more than 1800. Those twenty kids represent 6.7% of the kids in the study who were diagnosed with ASD.
That’s a small number of subjects (kids!) from a study that only oversaw 1800 kids. I’m not a doctor, but here is what Dr. Max Wiznitzer said when he was interviewed for an article appearing in Medscape Medical News (part of the WebMD family):
“They found that there was only twice or 3 times the risk. That means 97 or 98 out of 100 individuals taking SSRIs didn’t have this problem. In other words, the risk of ADS in the general population is 1%. So that means 3 times the risk is still just 3%,” he said.
“So the vast majority of women aren’t going to be at risk for this problem. And the risk at 3% is no higher than the risk of almost any developmental problem just in a regular pregnancy.” –From Medscape Medical News article, July 6, 2011.
A small study, with a risk only 2% higher than that of the general population, but the headlines don’t say that, do they? The one from the article above–the very detailed article above, but still:
Mom’s Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Children
See, what the headline doesn’t say, is that the link was the equivalent of statistical deviation in most studies.
But it’s enough to make those of us who took antidepressants (See my earlier article for my own Dirty Little Secret) question those decisions. As if we needed something else to add to the load we already carry.
The blame game is dangerous territory for parents to get into, even with the help of so-called scientific studies. We continually have to make peace with the decisions we made, are making, will make, and the effect those decisions have on our kids with autism. We have to step back and realize that these studies are part of the science world’s own process to understand what is happening with our kids. But this study, and the ones like it, are not the answer we’re all searching for. They are only part of the puzzle.
The real problem isn’t what this does to those of us who are now dealing with this study’s ramifications (look at the numbers above again folks … they tell the truth). No, the real danger lies in the next woman, pregnant, who is researching and struggling to make the best decisions for her own health, and that of her baby.
Clinical depression carries its own risks to both the mother and her baby. Significant risks. See my friend Deanne’s post here on this issue, and her analysis of those risks.
The sad truth is that there will be at least one mom-to-be who reads the study excerpts and thinks the greater risk is in taking the medication that is helping her with her depression. The real danger is the mom who won’t take care of her needs, along *with* those of her baby. Because there was this study. And it said that antidepressants were linked to autism.
At what point are study results like this more danger than they are worth? Weigh in! I want to know what you think of the study and the points I made? Do you agree? Disagree?