Autism linked to induced labor: Study

Zee Media Bureau/ Salome Phelamei

North Carolina: A new study finds that children whose mothers used drugs to induce or speed up labor during childbirth are slightly to have autism.

The government-funded study was published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

However, scientists have called for more research into autism causes as the study doesn’t bear conclusive answers.

“We haven’t found a connection for cause and effect. One of the things we need to look at is why they were being induced in the first place,” said Simon Gregory, lead author and an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University.

Authors say the study shouldn’t make doctors avoid giving labor-inducing drugs since it is safe, necessary and could save the lives of mothers as well as babies.

Government data shows 1 in 5 US women have labor induced - twice as many as in 1990.

Earlier, smaller studies have suggested a link between autism and induced labor, but the new research is the largest till date. In the study, researchers examined eight years of North Carolina birth records and matched 625,042 births with public school data from the late 1990s through 2008.

The study found that women whose labor was induced were 13% more likely to have an autistic child than women whose labor was not induced. The study also found that women whose labor was sped up were 16% more likely to have a kid later diagnosed with autism.
Also, those whose labor was both induced and augmented were 27% more likely to have an autistic child.

There was no increase in autism risk among women who had C-sections, Gregory says.

He says scientists should pay more attention at labor induction with oxytocin, also called the “love hormone,” which plays a key role in social behaviour and reasoning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 88 American children have an autism diagnosis.

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behaviour.

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