Inducing Labor Could Hurt Your Baby More Than You Know

This Just In 34

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.

More from The Stir: Bed Rest During Pregnancy Might Not Be Helping at All

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

complications, labor & delivery, autism


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knitt... knittykitty99

The authors of this study stressed that it could not show cause and effect.  The study showed correlation only.  You drew conclusions that the scientists did not.


Allis... AllisonWD

Autism is the new cancer. Everything causes it. I believe autism is genetic.

katyq katyq

You totally misunderstood the study results.  The study authors merely suggest that an autistic baby seems to be more likely than non autistic babies to fail to send out the signals that trigger labor and consequently the number of inductions among women who go on to have that same baby diagnosed is a little higher than the rate of induction of moms who did not go on to have their babies diagnosed with autism.

Shelley Nobles Riggs

Interesting article. All three of mine were induced due to Preeclampsia and two have autism. I've never heard of a link between the two before today, but I would definitely be interested in seeing how the research plays out..

Holly Walker

My first child was induced and he is not autistic but my second was not induced and he is autistic. Both my kids had all there shots and my first isn't autistic and my second one is. Also, they say it could be environmental and for me that or genetics is the only thing I can think of that is the difference in one having autism and one not.

Chana... Chanandler.Bong

Correlation does not equal causation. Except when you're a writer for theStir.  You're forgetting that many women who have induced pregnancies also have a medical reason for the induction. There are numerous other factors to take into consideration here.

MamaD... MamaDV1012

Not enough information.  The study did not look at the cause or the reasons for induction and didn't specify which types of induction/augmentation.  Too many other factors to consider.  Nobody WANTS to be induced, but there are reasons that can prevent surgery for the health of mom and baby. 

Lora Lee Rayt Collins

Both my children were natural - no meds and my first born has aspergers. Explain that?

Melanie Brown-Morkert

Interesting theory, my only autistic child was a natural birth with ZERO drugs used at all.

Irene Sturgeon

our baby lost oxygen and blood sugar dropped and I know that is why he became autistic .Every mother I talked too that had an autistic kid had hard labor or to long and was put in labor .The dr is the blame for not staying close enough to examine mothers and not leave it in the nurses hands until they see the baby is being born.

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