Here is a very alarming study from Rebecca Larke, a researcher in Karen Bales' lab at UC Davis: Female prairie voles that were given fluoxetine (generic Prozac) during pregnancy gave birth to babies that had significant abnormalities in their oxytocin and reward systems -- and this led to anxious behavior later in life.
According to Spectrum News, the offspring of the mothers that had been given the antidepressant preferred to spend time alone and were less likely to want to interact with unfamiliar voles, as well as being more anxious.
The adult voles that had been exposed to fluoxetine during gestation had symptoms similar to those of autism:
- fewer oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in the amygdala (fear center)
- fewer oxytocin receptors in the reward center (oxytocin receptors here make social interaction rewarding)
According to the article,
“Changes to the oxytocin system could underlie changes in social behavior,” says Larke.