MONDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Inducing or helping along labor in pregnant women may raise the risk for having a child with autism, particularly if that child is a boy, a new study suggests.
Experts, including the Duke University researchers, are quick to caution that there are often overriding medical reasons to induce or augment labor that should not be ignored because of any potential risk of autism.
Inducing labor involves stimulating contractions before labor has started through various means, and augmenting labor refers to the practice of helping labor progress more quickly with oxytocin (Pitocin), a drug that stimulates contractions.
About one in 88 children born in the United States has autism, a spectrum disorder that affects behavior and the ability to communicate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no consensus on what causes autism, but several factors are thought to increase risk, including advanced maternal age and/or pregnancy complications.