Women who need doctors' help in inducing or starting their labor tended to give birth to children who have a high risk of developing autism, especially if the baby is a boy, a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics reveals.
Researchers at Duke University initially observed the birth records of more than 625,000 babies born between 1990 and 1998 in North Carolina in order to find out in how many cases were the births induced. They then compared them with public school records to see how many of them later diagnosed with autism.
The researchers found that in total, around 1.3 percent of boys and 0.4 percent of girls had been diagnosed with autism. However the rate of autism increased to 35 percent among boys who were born to mothers whose labor was induced or helped along. The researchers found that only augmented labor was linked with increased risk of autism among girls.
"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. Women should understand the medical reason for induction or augmentation. This is a discussion that they need to have with their health care provider", lead researcher Simon Gregory said.