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August 12th, 2013
06:01 PM ET

Study finds link between inducing labor and autism

A new study released Monday suggests that there is an association between inducing or augmenting labor, and a heightened risk of developing autism.

The findings were particularly pronounced among boys, with a 35% increased risk of autism if their mothers' labors were both induced and augmented.

"The type of risk that we're looking at is in the realms of, say, a mother who decides to have children at an older age, a mother who has got potentially birth complications, or complications that the unborn child experiences in the uterus," said associate professor with Duke University School of Medicine Simon Gregory, who did the study.

"We're talking about, say, an elevated risk of 30-odd percent," said Gregory.

Gregory said the study looked at an association, not necessarily at a cause-and-effect relationship.

He would not recommend against a pregnant women inducing or augmenting her pregnancy.

"The point of the study is really to find if there is an association. The potential negative effects from not inducing or augmenting a labor far outweigh the risks we've identified," said Greogry.

"What we really need to do is work out where the association is coming from, what is the cause of this association and we're absolutely not recommending that where it's medically indicated, that a woman decides against induction or augmentation," said Gregory.

For more of our interview with Simon Gregory, check out the video above.

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