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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Anti-Asthma Drugs Taken During Pregnancy Associated With Autism Risk, Drexel Researchers Find

Taking certain asthma medication during pregnancy appears to be associated with an increased risk that the child will develop autism, according to a recently published study at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. Looking at birth records from Denmark dating between 1997 and 2007, it was determined children whose mothers took ß-2-andrenergic receptor (B2AR) agonist drugs during pregnancy were 30 percent more likely to be eventually diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. However, the research team estimated that less than one percent of the autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the entire population of the study (roughly 628,000 children) could be attributed to B2AR agonist drugs exposure. Uncontrolled asthma in pregnancy “has been associated with poor birth outcomes,” according to the study, so completely halting the use of B2AR drugs may not be the perfect solution. “Newly pregnant women taking medication for asthma or other conditions need to work closely with their health care provider to weigh the benefits of continuing medication use against possible risks,” said Dr. Craig Newschaffer, professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, and the director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, a co-author of the paper, which was published in the February edition of Pediatrics. Dr. Nicole Gidaya, a doctoral alumna of Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, noted “further research is needed before these results are taken into clinical consideration in the course of prenatal care.”