In Utero Exposure of Ritodrine Associated with Increased Incidence of Autism

Korean Study Show Twice the ASD Risk of Exposed Group vs. Non Exposed

Ritodrine is a prescription drug used to stop premature labor. The medication can also be used to manage asthma symptoms. In 1995, the United States discontinued the use of ritodrine for pregnant women due to dosage and efficacy problems. However, Korea continued usage of the drug to halt premature labor. After a 2016 Danish study linked the oral usage of ritodrine to control asthma with a higher risk of autism for children exposed to the drug in utero, a team of Korean researchers decided to study the risk of autism associated with the drug used intravenously to control premature labor. Their population-based study merged databases from the Korea National Health Insurance claims and the National Health Screening Program for Infants and Children for women who delivered single infants between 2007-2008. A little over 4% of mothers were exposed to ritodrine during pregnancy. By age 8, the overall cumulative incidence of autism for the children born to mothers who were prescribed ritodrine was 1.37%. The non-exposed group of children had an autism incidence of .70%. Due to the almost two- fold increased risk of autism, the study’s authors suggest that the long-term adverse outcomes of ritodrine are significant. They recommend limiting the drug for a short period of time and used only to prolong gestation in order for fetal lung maturation. 

Original Study

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