Public Release: 

Induced labor not associated with risk for ASDs

The JAMA Network Journals

Inducing labor appears not to be associated with risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in offspring when siblings discordant for labor induction - induced vs. not induced births - were compared, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

ASDs are developmental disabilities characterized by impaired social interaction and language development, as well as with repetitive behaviors. The group of disorders is estimated to affect about 1 in 90 children.

Anna Sara Oberg, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors used Swedish birth registry data to examine induced labor and ASD. The birth registry was linked to other registries of familial relations, health care visits and education records.

From a group of more than 1.3 million births, 22,077 children (1.6 percent) were diagnosed with ASD by age 8 through 21 years. Overall, 11 percent of all live births in Sweden from 1992 to 2005 were preceded by labor induction

When comparing siblings whose births were discordant for induction - accounting for all the environmental and genetic factors shared by siblings - there was no association with offspring ASD, according to the results.

Previous research has suggested a possible association between induction and augmentation of labor and risk of offspring ASD. The authors of the present study note limitations in its data and design.

"Using a design that incorporates the comparison of exposure-discordant relatives, the findings of this study provide no support for a causal association between induction of labor and offspring development of ASD," the authors conclude.

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(JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 25, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0965. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: The study includes funding/support disclosures. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

Media Advisory: To contact study author Anna Sara Oberg, Ph.D., call Marjorie Dwyer at 617-432-8416 or email mhdwyer@hsph.harvard.edu. To contact editorial author Daniel L. Coury, M.D., call Gina Bericchia at 614-355-0495 or email MediaRelations@NationwideChildrens.org.

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