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Researchers Draw Link Between Autism and Oxygen Deprivation

Oct. 30, 2019

Pregnancy and labor are not without potential risks to the mother and child. One birth complication that makes the list for a parent’s worth nightmare is birth asphyxia. WebMD explains that unborn children sometimes do not get enough oxygen during the pregnancy itself. Problems with the placenta or limited oxygen supply in the mother’s blood may cause this. Oxygen deprivation may also occur during labor if the labor lasts for a long period of time or there are problems with the umbilical cord.

Researchers have since found a link between this and the development of autism as children grow older. WebMD states that this is possible whether the oxygen deprivation arose from pregnancy complications or difficulties during labor. Note that the study did not prove a solid cause-and-effect relationship. However, it proves enough of a relationship for parents to consider if their children suffered from birth asphyxia and lately developed autistic traits.

Still, the study found that children who experienced oxygen deprivation before labor but in the latter part of the pregnancy had a high risk of developing autism. They faced a 22% risk. Children who experienced oxygen deprivation during birth faced a 10% risk. Children who experienced both had the highest risk at 44%. These results remained consistent regardless of the age, race or ethnicity of the mothers.

Even so, researchers warned mothers not to go into a panic if they suffered complications during pregnancy or labor. In the sample of women chosen for the study, one-third of them had experienced at least one complication. In spite of this, 98% of these pregnancies with complications led to the birth of a child who did not develop autism.