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Induced labor is not associated with autism, according to a study

Updated on July 28, 2016

Although induction of labor generally is safe, there have always been doubts about its consequences on the health of the baby. Among those consequences, one of which was that the newborn suffering from a autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a disease suffered by one in every 68 children in the United States, where research is more advanced. A new study, conducted at Harvard University and published in

JAMA Pediatrics concludes that "there is no link between the two phenomena." One former, developed in 2013 and had much impact among experts and population, determined otherwise, that such interventions increased the risk of some TEA. Targeting -hormona exposure to oxytocin which causes contractions in the uterus, as responsible for this risk.

Induced labor is a procedure that causes contractions artificially before childbirth happen by itself. The process involves cervical ripening, ie getting the maturation of the cervix, this is centered, effaced and dilated about two or three centimeters. Then oxytocin it is administered and finally the bag of waters breaks artificially. Induced labors are usually longer. In the United States produced more than 760,000 of these interventions each year. In Spain, in 2010, 19.4% of births were of this nature, though varies depending on the year, according to the Spanish Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (SEGO). This figure is much recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that it is appropriate that induced deliveries do not exceed the rate of 10% of all births in the population away.

The new study

The study consisted of mass data collection of live births between 1992 and 2005 in Sweden, for a total of 1,362,950 of which 22,077 had been diagnosed with some TEA between eight and 21 years. 11% of births were induced, "because the mother suffered from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia," say the researchers.

In a first step, in which they compared subjects who had no relationship between them, the authors found a link between inductions and TEA, as happened in the previous study of 2013. "However, when compared with siblings or cousins ​​no relationship was found "they explain. "Many of the factors that can lead both to induced labor or suffering from autism, are shared completely or partially with relatives, such as genetic factors or the characteristics of the mother, so it could be due to family factors and not induced labors, among other things ". "And besides, we do not know what causes most TEA" they add.

ASDs are defined as neurodevelopmental disorders that usually manifest in the first three years of a child's life. Babies with the disorder lose eye contact, sometimes it seems that they do not hear and have some hypersensitivities or catch excessively strong tantrums. A very characteristic behavior of children afflicted with this disorder are repetitive behaviors.

So what study is right?

In an opinion attached to the study, the authors say that "it is difficult to determine what research is good". "But what we do know are the benefits of inductions when medically necessary, and the outcome of a healthy mother and healthy newborn is obtained. We do not know what are the causes of ASDs, so we do not know how to prevent or reduce risks to babies. But we have good evidence of the benefits of prenatal and natal care, and we should promote it. "

"In this national sample of live births no association between induction of labor and the risk of ASD when compared to observed family. Our findings suggest that concern about ASD should not be taken into account when making clinical decisions about whether or not to induce labor, "they conclude. Many women can be reassured.


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