Inducing Labor Doesn’t Increase Autism Risk, Study Suggests

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Inducing labor doesn’t appear to increase the odds that a woman will have a child with autism, a new study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 1.3 million births in Sweden and found about 3.5 percent of babies born after induction were diagnosed with autism by age 20, compared with 2.5 percent of other infants. This translates into a roughly 19 percent greater risk of autism with induced labor, which is statistically meaningful. But when researchers took a closer look just at sibling pairs with one baby that arrived after induction and another that didn’t, they no longer found any link between induced labor and autism risk. The results from nearly 700,000 siblings suggest that any elevated autism risk associated with labor induction is actually due to other factors such as genetics or medical issues experienced by individual women, said lead study author Dr. Anna Sara Oberg, a public health researcher at Harvard University in Boston.

Overall, about 11 percent of these deliveries were induced, the researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics. Labor induction was more common with the mothers who were older, obese or experienced complications like high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy. The mother’s country of origin, education level and smoking status early in pregnancy didn’t appear to impact whether they would have an induced labor. One limitation of the study is that it didn’t examine various types of labor induction, which can include a variety of medications and procedures to help labor begin and progress, the authors note. The findings from the current study also run counter to a large 2013 study of U.S. babies that did link labor induction to a greater risk of autism, Oberg noted. More research is needed to explore how different types of induction or various reasons for induced labor may influence the odds of babies developing autism, Oberg said.

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