A recent study found that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder was higher among children who had been impacted by maternal labor epidural analgesia and the administration of oxytocin while the mother was giving birth. In clinical settings, LEA is one of the most often utilized pain control techniques throughout the delivery process. Its short-term safety and effectiveness have been demonstrated by controlled clinical trials. On the other hand, there is a lack of information about the durability of labor epidural anesthesia (LEA) in offspring.
An investigation was carried out by researchers to assess the effects of using LEA and oxytocin on the risk of ASD (autism spectrum disorders) in the kids of participants. Singleton children who were delivered vaginally between 28 and 44 weeks of gestation who delivered in Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) hospitals during the years 2008 and 2017 were included in the study as participants.
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The use of LEA and oxytocin was the key exposure that was monitored throughout the course of the trial, which spanned from intrapartum admission until delivery. The primary objectives of the study were autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis during follow-up and age at diagnosis. ASD diagnosis was established employing the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9-CM) or ICD-10-CM codes.
Significant differences were found in terms of sociodemographic features between women who had been exposed to LEA and those who had not, as well as significant differences in terms of social and health factors between women who had been exposed to oxytocin and those who had not. This resulted in greater incidences of induction, fever during labor, labor dystocia, augmentation, antepartum hemorrhage, and baby distress in women who were exposed to LEA or oxytocin during labor.
Moreover, the final analysis comprised 205,994 children (74.7% had been in contact with LEA; 57.2% to oxytocin). The median age of mothers who were not exposed to LEA was 30.8 years, whereas the median age of mothers who were exposed to LEA was 30 years, the median age of mothers who were exposed to oxytocin was 30 years, and the median age of mothers who were not subjected to oxytocin was 30.4 years. It was shown that 64.3% of women experienced an induction or augmentation of labor, with 88.9% of these women utilizing oxytocin.
According to these findings, there is a statistically significant connection between the risk of ASD and exposure to LEA and oxytocin. The researchers strongly suggested conducting more research to either confirm or disprove their findings. ASD was diagnosed in 2.5% of the children who were followed up, 2.7% of the children who were exposed to LEA, and 1.9% of the children who were not exposed to LEA. The hazard ratios for autism spectrum disorder reached 1.30 for LEA intake and 1.12 for oxytocin dose, respectively.