Does Inducing Labor Lead to Autism?

Aug. 13, 2013

Pregnant bellyA new study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics concludes that children born to mothers who had labor induced or augmented (sped up) were more likely to develop autism. Study authors from Duke Medicine said physicians should not hesitate to induce when medically needed, as it can save infants’ lives. But, they believe it’s another potential autism trigger worth exploring.

Susan HymanReuters Health turned to Pediatrics Professor Susan Hyman, M.D., to gain insight into what the study means for autism, which affects 1 in 88 children. The definitive cause of the disorder is still not known, but physicians and scientists have narrowed it down to a combination of genetics and environmental exposures.

“Induction is extraordinarily common,” Hyman told Reuters Health. She believes that much more research is needed to establish a direct link between induction/augmentation and autism, and urges parents to “Discuss that with your healthcare provider if you're worried about your child. Although the statistics identify an association the vast majority of children are fine and many of their lives might have been saved (by induction).”

Read the full Reuters story here and learn more about Hyman’s research here.