Skip to main content

Induced Labor Does Not Increase the Odds of Autism Spectrum Disorder, According To Study


A new study out of Utah recommends physicians continue to induce labor for mothers with medical indications. Despite previous claims that inducing labor might increase the likelihood of a child being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), researchers and physicians from University of Utah Health Sciences and Intermountain Healthcare have found no association between the two.

"Induction of labor is an important strategy to minimize risk to mother and baby in some situations," says Erin A. S. Clark, MD, lead author of the study and a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the University of Utah. "This study reassures both patients and physicians that induction of labor does not appear to be associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder."

ASD diagnoses have increased the past several decades and the disorder now affects an estimated one in 68 U.S. children. It is estimated that 1 in 54 children in Utah have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because of this, there has been great interest in identifying potential risk factors. Previous research suggested that environmental factors during pregnancy and childbirth may increase the risk of ASD diagnosis in childhood.

Labor is induced or augmented for many reasons, including medical indications and patient preference. Labor may be induced for multiple reasons, for example:

  • You're two weeks past your due date and labor hasn't started naturally.
  • Your water has broken but labor hasn't started after several hours.
  • There is an infection in the uterus.
  • You have a medical condition that might put you or your baby at risk, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Not inducing labor in these situations would mean higher risks for mothers and their babies.