Health In Focus
  • Induced labor does not increase risk for autism spectrum disorders
  • Risk of autism should not interfere with the decision to induce labor
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects many children and is characterized by
  • Language acquisition
  • Behaviour repetitions
  • Impairment in social interaction
Studies conducted on autism reveal that
  • 1 in 68 children in the U.S is found to be affected with autism.
  • 1 in 38 children in India is affected with autism.
  • Boys are 4.5 times more likely to have autism than girls.
An autistic child requires patience and support through the growing years and there are many support groups and training programs that help a parent look after the autistic child. However, a new study has shown that inducing labor will not increase the risk for autism.
Induced Labor Does Not Increase Autism Risk
Induced Labor Does Not Increase Autism Risk

Inducing Labor

Doctors resort to inducing labor when labor does not start on its own and when waiting for natural labor could affect the health of the unborn child. The various methods of inducing labor are

Previous Study Shows Induction Of Labor Increases Risk Of Autism

An earlier study by Simon G. Gregory and published in JAMA in 2013 carried out a population-based study on 625,042 births in North Carolina and their subsequent school records to ascertain if they had autism.

The study found that
  • 1.3% of male children had autism
  • 0.4% of female children had autism
While the authors of the study concluded that the induction of labor drastically reduced stillbirth among women with high sugar levels or high blood pressure, there existed a risk factor that increased chances of autism.

The study gathered popularity as it hypothesized that eliminating induction of labor could remove 2 autism cases for every 1000 births.

Current Study Shows No Increase In Risk Of Autism On Inducing Labor

The current study was carried out by Harvard Chan School researchers, Sweden's Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital, Indiana University and Harvard Medical University. They studied one million live births during the year 2013 and followed up the births by checking for the presence of neurological development disability.

The study found that
  • 2% of study population were diagnosed with autism
  • 11% of the deliveries were induced, with pregnancy complications that included
  • 23% of the induced labor cases were post term
When the researchers studied induced labor and then followed up with assessing the development of the baby, they found an association between induced labor and risk of autism.

Sibling Study

Researchers studied the effect of induced labor on siblings, where one child was born after inducing labor while the other child wasn't. There was no association identified.

Dr Anna Sara Oberg who is the lead author of the study and a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School cautions that "It is important to note that the findings pertain to the risks associated with labor induction per se, and not the specific method or medication used in the process, including oxytocin,"

  1. Anna Sara Oberg, Brian M. D'Onofrio, Martin E. Rickert, Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, Jeffrey L. Ecker, Catarina Almqvist, Henrik Larsson, Paul Lichtenstein, Brian T. Bateman. Association of Labor Induction With Offspring Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. JAMA Pediatrics, 2016; e160965 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0965
  2. Simon G. Gregory, Rebecca Anthopolos,Claire E. Osgood, Chad A. Grotegut, Marie Lynn Miranda. Association of Autism With Induced or Augmented Childbirth in North Carolina Birth Record (1990-1998) and Education Research (1997-2007) Databases. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2904
  3. Autism in India - (
Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia