Maternal Use of Hormonal Contraception Up to or During Pregnancy Linked to an Increased Risk of ASD

January 22, 2024

Non-Oral Progestin-Only Birth Control Products Shown to Be Especially Problematic

An extensive register-based Parental Exposures and Child Health (PECH) cohort study has discovered an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children associated with maternal use of any hormonal contraception up to or during pregnancy, compared to previous use (>3 months before pregnancy start). This research, conducted by Danish scientists, also found a stronger association between progestin-only birth control products and specific ASD subtypes like infantile autism and other/unspecified ASD in offspring. Although previous studies have explored the link between maternal hormonal contraception use and ASD risk, this study provided additional insights, especially concerning the association with non-oral progestin-only products. The authors acknowledge methodological variations among previous research and underscore the importance of considering timing and types of hormonal contraception in evaluating ASD risk. Their findings, based on a large sample size and comprehensive registry data, suggest that the prenatal hormonal environment may influence ASD development, emphasizing the need for further research and potential implications for prevention strategies. Despite the relatively low absolute risk increase, the study highlights the importance of monitoring the impact of contemporary non-oral progestin-only products on ASD risk as their usage increases.

Original Study Abstract

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