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Interesting Autism Study

Inducing labor may be tied to autism, study says. By LINDSEY TANNER. AP
Medical Writer. CHICAGO (AP) -- The biggest study of its kind suggests
autism might be linked with inducing and speeding up labor, preliminary
findings that need investigating since labor is induced in increasing
numbers of U.S. women, the authors and other autism experts say. It's
possible that labor-inducing drugs might increase the risk - or that the
problems that lead doctors to start labor explain the results. These include
mothers' diabetes and fetal complications, which have previously been linked
with autism. Like most research into autism causes, the study doesn't
provide conclusive answers, and the authors say the results shouldn't lead
doctors to avoid inducing labor or speeding it up since it can be
life-saving for mothers and babies. Simon Gregory, lead author and an
associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University,
emphasized, "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.
Government data suggest 1 in 5 U.S. women have labor induced - twice as many
as in 1990. Smaller studies suggested a possible tie between induced labor
and autism, but the new research is the largest to date, involving more than
600,000 births. The government-funded study was published online Monday in
JAMA Pediatrics. The researchers examined eight years of North Carolina
birth records, and matched 625,042 births with public school data from the
late 1990s through 2008. Information on autism diagnoses didn't specify
whether cases were mild or severe. Labor was induced or hastened in more
than 170,000 births. Overall, 5,648 children developed autism - three times
as many boys as girls. Among autistic boys, almost one-third of the mothers
had labor started or hastened, versus almost 29 percent of the boys without
autism. The differences were less pronounced among girls. Oxytocin and
prostaglandins are used to start or speed up labor but the study doesn't
identify specific medications. The strongest risks were in boys whose
mothers had labor started and hastened. They were 35 percent more likely to
have autism. Among girls, autism was not tied to induced labor; it was only
more common in those born after labor was accelerated; they were 18 percent
more likely to have the developmental disorder than girls whose mothers had
neither treatment. Autism affects about 1 in 88 U.S. children. Symptoms may
involve communication problems including avoiding eye contact and unusual
repetitive behavior including arm-flapping. Causes are uncertain but experts
believe it probably results from a combination of genetics and other
factors. These may include mothers' illnesses and medication use while
pregnant, fathers' age at conception, and problems affecting the fetus
during childbirth - all suggested but not proven in previous research. The
study's biggest strength is bolstering the growing consensus that risks for
autism occur before birth or soon after, said Dr. Byron King, director of
Seattle Children's Hospital's autism center. He was not involved in the

--- Online: JAMA Pediatrics: Autism: --- Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at


Asked by Ballad at 12:39 AM on Aug. 16, 2013 in Special Needs

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • Anything is possible
    I was induced at 37 weeks,but he was already 7 lbs

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 7:19 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • I've believed this for years because when my children were born, autism did not exist--was unheard of.

    It did exist, those kids were just labeled retarded or trouble makers. They were put into institutions or left to fend for themselves. It has always been around, but no one knew what it was.

    Answer by kmath at 9:02 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • I had pitocin autism in both my kids. My cousin had three natural births.... All three are on the spectrum.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 1:06 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • Oh and to answer the OP (even if there wasn't a question), studies can say whatever the authors want them to say.

    Answer by kmath at 9:05 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • There has to be a link to something new in our culture. I've believed this for years because when my children were born, autism did not exist--was unheard of.

    Answer by NannyB. at 8:46 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • I've always said pitocin was the drug of the devil. I now have another reason to believe it!

    Answer by gdiamante at 12:50 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • I read the study the other day. My 3rd was induced and she's typical, my oldest was not induced and he has autism - go figure.

    Answer by missanc at 9:15 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • OK

    Answer by DJDNY at 7:11 AM on Aug. 16, 2013

  • Oh and to answer the OP (even if there wasn't a question), studies can say whatever the authors want them to say.

    I agree. I didn't post this because of my opinion on the matter--I don't have an opinion one way or the other since I'm not a doctor or a scientist. I posted this because there are a lot of moms on Answers whose children have autism, and I THOUGHT the article might interest some of them. Ongoing research intrigues me.

    Comment by Ballad (original poster) at 2:22 PM on Aug. 16, 2013