Purpose of Study Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by the core dimensions: social impairment, communication impairment; restrictive interests, and compulsivity. The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates many social behaviors; hence, it has been suggested that it may play a role in the etiology of ASD. In addition, it has also been proposed in previous studies that exposure of a child to Pitocin (a synthetic form of the neuropeptide oxytocin, used for labor induction) during delivery might increase their susceptibility to developing ASD later in development.
Methods This study investigated the above hypothesis by examining parent report of labor induction in a population including 82 children diagnosed with ASD participating in the Autism Research Project at the University of California, Irvine, Dept of Pediatrics, and Neurobiology. History of induced birth was obtained from a self-administered questionnaire completed by the mothers of the subjects. We then compared the rate of induced labor to recently published national statistics on induced labor for the entire United States. Results were analyzed by determining the standard incidence ratio (SIR) and 95% confidence limits to determine their significance.
Results and Conclusions The study suggests that parents of children with ASD report a history of induced labor more frequently than predicted based on US population rates. Further research will be needed to establish the validity of the birth history information obtained from parents and the true rates for induced labor in comparable unaffected subjects in our research population who do not have ASD.
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