When a study came out three years ago that showed a possible link between induction of labor and autism, many people, from doctors to parents, were skeptical. Many theories have been given for the increasing incidence of autism, but this particular study showed a weak correlation. Now another study has been completed that shows there is no link between induction of labor and autism. The study was conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in JAMA Pediatrics, a renowned scholarly journal about pediatric health.
Autism spectrum disorders affect one out of 90 children in the United States, and the incidence seems to be increasing all the time. Male children are more at risk than females for unknown reasons. Vaccinations have been a long-debated cause of putting children more at risk for autism, with multiple studies recently finding that there is no association between vaccinations and autism spectrum disorders. Even so, many people delay vaccinations or choose not to vaccinate at all. This has also been cause for pubic health concern, and researchers are constantly trying to solve the autism spectrum disorder puzzle. So far, they have only been able to say what does not cause autism, and induction of labor, which commonly uses the medication oxytocin to cause uterine contractions, does not seem to be one of the culprits of autism.
It is important to note that for this particular study, that does not mean there is no correlation between the need to be induced and autism, just that the induction of labor does not contribute to the development of autism spectrum disorders. In this study, researchers collected data from all live births in Sweden between the years 1992 to 2005, a robust number that included more than one million births. Approximately 11 percent of those births were induced. In follow-up studies, about 2 percent of the babies born went on to be diagnosed with autism, according to Perf Science. Autism is typically not diagnosed until age 3 or 4, although there has been a strong medical push to look for indicators earlier in the child’s life so that therapies can be started.
Overall, researchers say that there is no need to weigh the concern of autism when a doctor is considering whether or not to induce a baby’s birth for medical or other reasons. Of interest, there has been a recent surge of advocating for the acceptance of autism, rather than trying to find out what causes it and prevent it. Many people feel it is a realm of “neuro reality” that many people are not familiar with but should not be treated, as it is not a disease. Others vehemently disagree. Regardless of the normative values of culture placed on autism, the lead study author said there’s no evidence that labor induction is linked to autism.
“Overall, these findings should provide reassurance to women who are about to give birth, that having their labor induced will not increase their child’s risk of developing autism spectrum disorders.”
Other possible causes of autism that have been neither proven nor disproven included genetic markers, preservatives in food, neurotoxins the mother is exposed to during pregnancy, bacterial infections, and immune reactions. Most psychologists agree, however, that there may not be a significant increase in the cases of autism; it is simply that people are more aware and on the lookout for behaviors in children that are not neuro-typical. For instance, someone who was simply said to be “quirky” 50 years ago but otherwise accepted as neuro-typical might be diagnosed with autism today. Therapies for autism vary and include speech, cognitive therapy, social interaction help, and a reduction in irritants that provoke the nervous system.
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