We recently blogged about new research lead by the director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente showing a link between use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by pregnant women and autism. The research suggests that mothers who use an SSRI during the first trimester of their pregnancy have a three-fold increased risk for their child developing autism. This report is significant given the costs for treatment of autism that families incur over the lifetime of their child.
In 2006 research authored by Michael Ganz, Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development at the Harvard School of Public Health, estimated the costs of caring for autistic children. The study suggests that
It can cost about $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime. Caring for all people with autism over their lifetimes costs an estimated $35 billion per year. Those figures are part of the findings in the first study to comprehensively survey and document the costs of autism to U.S. society. Michael Ganz, Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, authored the study, which appears in a chapter titled, “The Costs of Autism,” in the newly published book, Understanding Autism: From Basic Neuroscience to Treatment (CRC Press, 2006).
These staggering numbers show the personal sacrifices parents go through in getting their autistic children treated. Battles have been brewing for years between insurance companies and parents of these children where insurance companies have failed to pay for these needed services.
Now, with this new research showing a possible link between SSRIs and autism, the next question is what did the pharmaceutical giants producing these drugs know? If they did know of the risks or should have known of the risks then it stands to reason that they should be held responsible for the treatment needed by these children during their lifetimes.