Does Depression and Stress During Pregnancy Leads to Autism

Fri Jul 8, 2022

Autism is an neuro developmental issue that appears to start in the early years of the age.

Although the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders are not evident until toddler hood, the first few months of utero can provide the foundation for the interaction between genes and the environment.

Mental health issues of the expecting parent could be one of the causes of mental health issues in children.

Can Mental Health Be A Element Of Autism During Pregnancy

The physical and mental state of pregnant women can influence the growth of the baby.

For instance, gestational diabetes could increase the likelihood for a child might also develop diabetes later on in life.

It could also be applicable to mental health as well as aspects of the child's development.


Certain mental health issues can be treated with medication. However in the case of developmental differences among babies it's not a definite cause.

A 2018 study, comprising 194,494 mother-child pairs found that the risk of children developing autism was more affected by depression symptoms of the mother during pregnancy than their treatment with antidepressants.

The study revealed that both treatment or non-treated depression during pregnancy could increase the likelihood of a child developing autism. However, children born to women who took antidepressants other than for treating depression were less likely to be affected by autism.

There's no evidence to suggest that taking medications for anxiety during pregnancy affects your baby's health in any way.


It's not the sole mental health issue that affects the outcome of pregnancy.

Stress levels that are high during pregnancy might also be related to autism for children. The connection is believed to be the most significant when the mother experiences stress between weeks 25-28 of pregnancy.

Abusive Partner

Along the same lines as chronic stress, having abusive behaviour from a partner prior to or during pregnancy is associated with a greater risk of children developing autism as per the findings of a nursing study.

A 2016 study, suggests that if a female is subjected to abuse from her partner within the first two years prior to having her baby, and even while pregnant, that the child is more likely to being diagnosed with autism later.

Ashutosh Bhardwaj, MBBS, DCH, PGDUS, PGPN
He is a Pediatrician and Neonatologist with passion of teaching on pregnancy diet and nutrition, scientific womb talk trainer, and baby brain development trainer.

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