Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Induced Labor Linked to Raised Risk of Autism, Study Suggests

    Male children seem to be most vulnerable, researchers report

    continued...

    "Autism risk is likely a cumulative effect of many genes and many environmental effects," he noted.

    The new results should not be interpreted to mean that helping labor along is a dangerous medical practice, Gregory stressed.

    "In the vast majority of cases, pregnancy should be induced or augmented for cogent medical reasons, and if it isn't, the risk to mother and child is significantly worse than risk for developing autism," he said. "Women should understand the medical reason for induction or augmentation. This is a discussion that they need to have with their health care provider."

    Calling the new findings "hard to ignore," Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, said induction or augmentation of labor appears to be associated with a modest increase in the risk of autism. "The increased risk, even if real, is relatively small and must be weighed against the proven benefits of induction or augmentation of labor in cases where there are real concerns about the acute health of the mother and unborn infant in the hours prior to delivery."

    Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health research and scientific review at the advocacy group Autism Speaks, said much research on risk of autism focuses on the time around birth.

    The new findings "warrant further research into the specific mechanism that may cause the relationship. We don't know if it's the drugs that bring on or speed up labor or the condition that causes labor to need help in the first place," he said. "Autism is a puzzle, and this is another piece that we have discovered."

    More information

    For more on autism, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    1 | 2

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow