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Labor Linked to Autism

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Researchers have found a link between a pregnant woman's labor and the risk of having a child with autism. A new study from Duke Medicine found that inducing labor and increasing the strength or frequency of contractions may raise the chances of autism, especially in boys.  Dr. Simon Gregory is one of the researchers. "What we found was an elevated risk of around 35% risk for males who were induced and augmented."

Autism affects approximately one in 88 children in the United States. Doctors don't know exactly what causes autism, but scientists suspect genetics and environment play a role.

Michael Rosanoff is the associate director public health research for Autism Speaks. "This study gives us another environmental factor that may be influencing risk for autism. Again, while these findings are preliminary and the risk was modest it still raises some red flags."

That's because about 20% of births in the U.S. are induced. And about 70% are augmented.  But researchers caution the study doesn't show that these measures actually cause autism and that more study is needed. "What we haven't found is the reasons of the increase. It could have something to do with the circumstances of maternal health. It could be events at birth or it could be the augmentation or induction process it self," says Dr. Gregory.

Doctors say the best advice for women is to learn about typical childhood development-- so you can spot the early warning signs of autism.

Written By Wendy Damonte
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