MERRIAM, Kan. -- Recent research has linked autism to everything from air pollution to mothers being abused as children. Now a study finds women whose labor is induced may be at higher risk of having a child with autism.
The study in JAMA Pediatrics finds pregnant women whose labors are induced or contractions stimulated are more likely to have a child with autism, especially if the baby is a boy. There was a 35 percent higher risk although researchers say not inducing labor might eliminate just two in every 1,000 cases of autism.
A doctor at Shawnee Mission Medical Center isn't impressed with the research.
"I think this article raises an unfortunate, perhaps unnecessary concern," said Dr. Fred Hall, a neonatologist.
Dr. Hall said for one thing, researchers looked at school records to see who had autism instead of looking at medical diagnoses.
He said the study is no reason for women to be concerned about having labor induced when their doctors believe it's best for mom and baby.
"Many, many things are associated with other things without any cause and effect relationship between the two," said Dr. Hall.
The causes of autism -- genetic or environmental -- aren't known yet.
So what appears to increase the chances? Just being a boy, having a family history of autism and having certain conditions such as Tourette Syndrome or Epilepsy. Also, autism appears to be more common in children of older parents.