Pregnant Women Taking Antidepressants Encouraged to Report Autism Effects in Infants to Mental

LOS ANGELES, March 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) has launched an investigation into the link between prenatal antidepressant use potentially causing autism and the current psychiatric push to electroshock autistic children. In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 15 percent of women in their reproductive years take antidepressants, raising concerns about the possibility of birth defects, including, medical experts say, autism.[1] CCHR cites several studies published in The British Medical Journal, Autism Research, Pediatrics and other journals that have reported a potential association between in utero exposure of babies to antidepressants and an increased risk of autism.[2] As some experts argue that brain damage in the womb could also be a root of autism,[3] CCHR says the use of brain-damaging electroshock treatment on autistic children should be banned.

CCHR is investigating children born with antidepressant damage being given further brain-damaging electroshock CCHR is investigating children born with antidepressant damage being given further brain-damaging electroshock

The group warned that the combined adverse effects of antidepressants and electroshock are “double jeopardy” for the child — a considerable danger or trouble from two sources. It is calling on mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy and gave birth to an infant later diagnosed with autism to contact it. It also wants to hear from mothers whose children, including those diagnosed with autism, have been recommended for or have undergone electroshock treatment — the passage of about 360 volts of electricity through the brain, further damaging it.

Researchers writing in Autism Research pointed out that the percentage of women using SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy increased from an estimated 1.2 percent in 1995 to 6.2 percent in 2005. The prevalence of autism increased from 1 in 500 children to about 1 in 160 children during that same time period. Statistics from the CDC placed the 2005 prevalence rate even higher, at perhaps one in 120. In short, as SSRI use increased five-fold over a 10 year period, autism increased 3 to 4-fold. In 2013, autism disorders were estimated to affect one in 88 children.[4]

The Autism Key, an online information and support network, states that electroshock (electroconvulsive therapy or ECT) is being used on autistic children who self-harm and warned about more “widespread autism applications,” noting the lack of evidence that electroshock is safe for children.[5] 

Yet through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed with all U.S. states, CCHR established that in 14 states that responded, ECT is being used on children and adolescents and in five states, this included those aged 0-5 years old. It is unknown how many may have been born to mothers taking a prescription psychotropic drug, such as an antidepressant.

Eighty years after electroshock was invented — stemming from electroshocking pigs in a Rome slaughterhouse — psychiatrists admit they still don’t know how ECT “works.” Numerous theories have been proposed, none of which have found mainstream scientific acceptance. Among the many psychiatric theories is that ECT “caused a good kind of brain damage,” according to a 2016 Psychiatric News article. Meanwhile, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been pressuring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to give psychiatrists a wider berth to administer electroshock — despite its damaging risks, including memory loss — to children. Find out more about ECT here.

CCHR is also concerned about the broad description of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that appears in the APA’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) published in 2013. CCHR recognizes that parents want the very best for their child, but they warn parents that the DSM offers no clinical test to substantiate an ASD diagnosis. It also points to Allen Frances, MD, a professor of psychiatry and the architect of DSM-IV who lamented that because of DSM, the “massive mislabeling” of children during the past 20 years, has led to rates of autism multiplying an incredible 40 times.[6] Such increases put children at risk today of being subjected to electroshock — a lucrative market for psychiatrists to bill insurance, according to CCHR.

CCHR Anniversary – 49 Years of Investigating How Psychiatric Treatments Cause Child Abuse

Ms. Jan Eastgate, President of CCHR International, stated: “The obvious fact is that electroshock should never be used, but especially on children.” She said that the launch of CCHR’s current investigation coincides with the 49th anniversary of the establishment of CCHR on March 4, 1969.

The electroshocking of children was one of its first campaigns, resulting in the 1976 ban on the use of electroshock treatment and psychosurgery on children in California. Three other U.S. states have since banned pediatric use of electroshock.[7] Last year several legislators in Pennsylvania announced they were introducing a law to ban ECT on children and adolescents.[8] Other campaigns that CCHR has championed are exposing the risks of psychotropic drugs to children and adolescents, especially where these have been linked to causing violent and suicidal effects. CCHR was instrumental in pushing for toxicology tests to be re-done for the ringleader in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, which found he was taking an antidepressant that could cause potential violence-inducing mania. See CCHR’s latest release here. Working with parents and doctors, CCHR put pressure on the FDA to issue its black box warning in 2004 indicating that antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents. CCHR was also the lead group to help obtain the Federal Prohibition of the Mandatory Medication amendment that in 2004 banned the practice of children being forced onto psychiatric drugs as a requisite for their education. The group also supports a Citizens Petition that was filed with the FDA Commissioner in 2016 opposing the FDA reducing the current high-risk classification for the electroshock device — a machine that has never been proven safe and effective by FDA standards and regulations.

John Breeding, Ph.D., an author and CCHR International advisor notes that “The brain naturally operates in millivolts of electricity. ECT, however, jolts the brain with an average of 150 to 400 volts of electricity. ECT induces a grand mal seizure and it is obvious that ECT causes brain damage.”[9]

Parents can contact CCHR to report any antidepressant or electroshock damage to their children by calling 1-800-869-2247 or 323-467-4242 or reporting it through this online form.

CCHR is a mental health industry watchdog organization that works for patient protections and encourages the public to take action against mental health abuse. In the course of its 48 years, it has helped get more than 180 laws enacted, including the ban of ECT use in children in several U.S. states. As a nonprofit, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission and actions to ban the use of electroshock. Click here to support the cause.

Contact: Amber Rauscher, or (323) 467-4242


[1] “CDC: Women need better info on antidepressants and pregnancy,” CNN, 28 Jan. 2016,; Lisa Rapaport, “Antidepressants in Pregnancy Tied to Autism,” Scientific American,

[2] Dheeraj Rai, et al, “Parental depression, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy, and risk of autism spectrum disorders: population based case-control study,” British Medical Journal 2013;346, f2059. First published online April 19, 2013,;; Rebecca A. Harrington, et al, “Serotonin Hypothesis of Autism: Implications for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use during Pregnancy,” Autism Research, 2013 June 1; 6(3):149-168. Published online 14 Mar. 2013,; Rebecca A. Harrington, PhD, MPH et al., “Prenatal SSRI Use and Offspring With Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay,” Pediatrics, 2014 April 14;133(5):e1241-1248;


[4] Op. cit. Rebecca A. Harrington, et al, “Serotonin Hypothesis of Autism: Implications for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use during Pregnancy.”

[5] Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, et al., “The Utmost Discretion: How Presumed Prudence Leaves Children Susceptible to Electroshock,” Children and Society, Vol. 28, 205-217 (2014).

[6] Allen Francis, “DSM-5 Diagnoses in Kids Should Always Be Written in Pencil  Mislabelling children and adolescents is frequent and can haunt them for life,” Psychology Today, 31 Oct. 2016,

[7] California Welfare ad Institutions Code, Division 5, Community Mental Health Services, Part 1, Chapter 2, Involuntary Treatment; Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 13 Courts and Court Procedure § 13-20-403 Restrictions on electroconvulsive treatment–rights of minors; Texas Health and Safety Code – HEALTH & SAFETY § 578.002. Use of Electroconvulsive Therapy.

[8] Rep. Stephen Kinsey, “Kinsey, Murt introduce bill to ban electroshock therapy on Pa. children,” Rep. Stephen Kinsey website, 27 Sept. 2017,

[9] John Breeding, “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped,” 11 Feb. 2014,

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