Induced births may increase autism risk

A study examining the link between birth procedures and autism finds that boys may be more affected than girls

Topics: Bloomberg, Autism, Children, Labor, Pregnancy, induced labor, ,

Induced births may increase autism risk (Credit: MJTH/Shutterstock)

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) — Boys born to mothers who needed their doctor to start or help along the birth may have a higher risk of autism, a study found.

Boys whose mothers had labors that were induced, which stimulates the uterus to bring on contractions, or augmented, which increases the strength, duration and frequency of contractions, had a 35 percent greater risk of autism then children whose mothers didn’t need those procedures to help the births, according to research in JAMA Pediatrics.

The study released yesterday is the largest to examine the potential link between birth procedures and autism and to find that males may be more affected than females, said Simon Gregory, the lead author. While induced labors help reduce deaths among mothers and babies, more studies are needed to better understand why these procedures may raise autism risk, he said.

“The study shows there is an elevated risk around augmentation and induction, however we haven’t found cause and effect,” Gregory, an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a telephone interview. “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 inducting or augmenting far outweigh the elevated risk for development of autism.”

Gregory said multiple issues may contribute to the higher autism risk such as the woman’s health, the unborn child’s health, the reason for labor to be induced or augmented and other drugs being used at the time of childbirth.

North Carolina Children

Researchers in the study looked at the records of all births in North Carolina over eight years, matching 625,042 with public school records that stated if the child was diagnosed with autism.

About 1.3 percent of male children and 0.4 percent of female children received an autism diagnosis over the study. Among both sexes, the percentage of moms who had induced or augmented labor was higher among kids with autism than those without.

The study found that male children whose mothers’ labor was induced and augmented had a higher risk of autism even after factoring in the mother’s age and pregnancy complications. Male children were also more at risk for autism if the mother’s labor was either induced or augmented, while female children had an increased risk only if their mother’s labor was augmented, the researchers said.



Fetal Distress

The study showed that children later diagnosed with autism more often had a birth in which they had fetal distress.

One in 50 U.S. children are diagnosed with autism or a related disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with autism may be unresponsive to people, become indifferent to social activity and have communication difficulties.

“Over the last decade or so, it has become clear that a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors contribute to risk for autism,” Alycia Halladay, senior director of environmental and clinical sciences at Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization, said in a statement. “It is important for research to identify these risk factors so that the impact of these factors can be prevented. This is a provocative finding that calls for more research on the use of induction and augmentation during labor as a potential risk factor for autism.”

 

–Editors: Andrew Pollack, Angela Zimm

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Ostrow in New York at nostrow1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...