A new study shows a link between induced labor and autism in children, but researchers caution that no cause-and-effect has been found.
The study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics found that women who underwent induced or augmented labor were more likely to have autistic children. The study’s lead author, however, noted that the increased risk probably has more to do with an underlying problem than with the pregnancy or induced labor.
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Tara Wenger, a pediatrics genetics fellow at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and who was not involved in the study, told USA Today it’s possible that “infants destined to develop autism are less likely to send out the correct biomedical signals for normal progression of labor.”
HealthDay said the study examined birth records of more than 625,000 children
born from 1990 to 1998 in North Carolina, and then looked to see how many of them were later diagnosed with autism. Boys born to moms who underwent induced labor were 35 percent more like to develop autism.
The study’s author is Simon Gregory, an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University. He stressed that the findings do not mean induced labor leads to autism.
“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 in the HealthDay story. “Women should understand the medical reason for induction or augmentation. This is a discussion that they need to have with their health care provider.”
Meanwhile, a second study published Tuesday in Annals of Neurology found that women with low levels of thyroxine were four times as likely to give birth to autistic children than women with normal levels of the thyroid hormone. Researchers said they found the link by looking at more than 4,000 Dutch mothers and children.
About 1 in 88 American children have been diagnosed with autism.
Causes for autism have not been determined with certainty, but vaccinations have been ruled out. Researchers are focusing on various prenatal risk factors.
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