A recent Duke University study suggests that autism might be linked with inducing and/or augmented labor for pregnant women.
In induction, doctors use medication to stimulate contractions before spontaneous labor begins. Augmentation helps contractions become stronger, longer or more frequent. Both of these methods of expediting deliveries have helped mothers who have health conditions that could be detrimental to them or their child. However, it is also possible that labor-inducing drugs might increase the risk of developing autism--or that problems that lead doctors to induce labor explain the results, such as a mother's diabetes, or fetal complications.
The government-funded study, which was published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, is based on data on more than 600,000 births in North Carolina.
However, experts note that the preliminary results from the data are not conclusive and that the findings need investigating, since labor is induced in increasing numbers of U.S. women, reports The Hollywood Gossip.
Researchers in the study say the results shouldn't lead doctors to avoid inducing labor since it can be used to save the lives of mothers and babies.
Instead, Simon Gregory, a researcher at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study, states, "It's a decision between them and their healthcare provider," but the data do not "outweigh the risks that would come with just not wanting to be induced or augmented at all, because then you're the placing the mother and the infant's life at risk," reports CNN.
Gregory added, "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."