Another Study Concludes that Labor Epidural Analgesia Is Linked to Autism

August 07, 2023

Fickle Findings from Recent Research Leave Parents Wondering Which Results Are Correct

Over the past three years, SafeMinds has covered five studies investigating epidural anesthesia use during labor and its neurodevelopmental effect on offspring. The results of these studies have been inconsistent, with one study finding a direct association between epidurals and autism, one finding a slight link, and three showing no association at all. Now, another study can now be added to the positive association list. A recent extended birth cohort study has found that exposure to local epidural anesthesia (LEA) during vaginal delivery is associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. The authors also found that the risk was further increased if oxytocin was administered in the LEA. However, the study discovered that oxytocin exposure without LEA exposure was not associated with ASD risk in offspring. The authors call for further research to understand the long-term safety of maternal medical interventions during labor and delivery on child health outcomes. The study also notes that the LEA exposure rate in the cohort was higher than in other extensive cohort studies, which may reflect differences in population, access to care, and practice.

Original Study

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