Researchers are conducting study after study to examine both genetic and environmental possible factors that may lead to autism. A new study, conducted at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, lead by Simon Gregory found that children born by induced labor may have a higher risk for autism down the road. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, showed that male babies had a 35% higher risk for autism if their mother’s labor was induced. Previous studies have examined birth procedures and its effect on autism, but this is the largest study to date. Gregory explained however, that
“We haven’t found a cause and effect. The results don’t dictate there be any change in any clinical practices surrounding birth. The dangers to the mothers and the infants by not inducing or augmenting far outweigh the elevate risk for development of autism.” [i]
The researchers also add that induced labor may not be the sole risk for autism; rather, both the mother and baby’s health needs to be taken into consideration as well as the reason for the induced labor and what other drugs were present for the birth.
Records of North Carolina births over the span of 8 years were looked at with public school records showing if the child was autistic or not. From the public school records, 1.3% of males and 0.4% of females were diagnosed with autism, and the induced or augmented labor percentages were higher among the autistic group than the typically developing group. Whether the labor was induced or augmented did not matter for the male births, but the female groups showed a higher risk only if the mother was augmented.
Autism is on the rise both in the United States and worldwide, and both genetic and environmental factors are still being taken into consideration while trying to discover the etiology of autism.
[i] “Bloomberg” Autism risk may be raised for children when labor induced. 13 Aug 2013. Web. < http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-12/autism-risk-may-be-raised-for-children-when-labor-induced.html>