Inducing Labor Could Hurt Your Baby More Than You Know

baby feetNatural birth advocates often anger some over their stance on really trying to have a non-medicated birth without induction unless it's absolutely necessary. There will always be women who would rather meditate their baby out or try acupuncture; and there will always be women who want to schedule their birth early, induce labor with Pitocin, and ask for an epidural. In the end, no matter what you choose, I think we all can agree we just want healthy, thriving babies. But what if you learned that inducing labor could increase the risk of your child having autism?

In a study of more than a half a million births, the chance of autism increased by 23 percent when mothers had been induced or their labor was augmented. That's not a percentage we can ignore.


This is interesting since many studies show there is a genetic link to autism -- though many believe it is environmental. Some fear vaccines increase the chance of autism as well. What we know for certain is that we don't know enough. This new study suggests that changing the natural course of labor and delivery could affect the developmental process. That's not making me comfortable with how frequently doctors and nurses push Pitocin and inductions on mothers. Though it's not something I was pleased about prior to these latest findings. Pitocin is linked to adverse effects on newborns.

Simon G. Gregory, PhD, of Duke University, and his colleagues reported in JAMA Pediatrics that this risk associated with induction is much like a baby experiencing some type of fetal distress, gestational diabetes, meconium, or being premature. They say environmental factors can increase risk of autism during prenatal and early postnatal development. As with any study, researchers say more investigating needs to take place for more answers.

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It's important to note that how baby was delivered -- vaginal or c-section -- did not affect the risk of autism.

Still, the researchers say that these findings "are not sufficient to suggest altering the standard of care regarding induction or augmentation; our results do suggest that additional research is warranted." Dr. Gregory said, "We know that there are circumstances surrounding birth which have resulted in an elevated risk in autism, but we can't establish that it's the induction or augmentation process itself. It could be maternal health, it could be fetal health, or it could be the induction or augmentation process itself. We haven't made that link yet." 

It could be .... That word in itself just makes me worry.

Would you avoid an induction now that you've learned of this potential risk?


Image via {pranav}/Flickr

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