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.
"What we found was an elevated risk of around 35 percent risk for males who were induced and augmented," said Dr. Simon Gregory with the Duke Center for Human Genetics.
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.
"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," said Michael Rosanoff, Associate Director Public Health Research with the group Autism Speaks.
That's because about 20 percent of births in the U.S. are induced and about 70 percent 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 itself," Dr. Gregory said.
Doctors say the best advice for women is to learn about typical childhood development, so you can spot the early warning signs of autism.
Marlie Hall - CBS News
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