Everything Pregnancy

Is There Really a Link Between C-Sections and Autism?

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When my doctor suggested I was a candidate for a C-section because I was carrying twins in breech position, I didn't flinch. I was happy to do what was recommended for our safety. Of course, I would have hesitated if I felt like I could be putting the babies in danger in any way.

Headlines frequently seem to blare scary news that can be daunting—and confusing!—to expecting mamas. For instance, the initial findings of a new study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggest a scary link between cesarean deliveries and autism: Results appear to show that children born by C-section were 21 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

However, those of us mamas who delivered by C-section will be relieved to know this: The C-section/autism association did not hold up in further analysis of siblings. What that means it that the first, scary-seeming results were not actually causal, and instead were likely related to other factors—like genetics or environment.

Autism spectrum disorder is thought to affect nearly two thirds of one percent of children all around the world, and here in the U.S., experts put that figure about two and a half times higher—at about 1.5 percent. Various factors—including C-section—have been investigated as possible causes.

To further the investigation, this latest study out of Europe looked at data for live births from 1982 through 2010. The huge study group included 2.7 million children, with nearly 13 percent of those delivered by cesarean. Of the total group, about 1 percent were diagnosed with autism. Importantly, the sibling control portion of the study found no association between mode of delivery and autism.

The study concluded that "...because the association between birth by [cesarean section] and [autism spectrum] did not persist in the sibling control analysis, we can conclude that there is no causal association."

And that news can certainly bring a sigh of relief for c-section mamas like me.

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Alesandra Dubin is a new twin mom. She's also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of lifestyle blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo: Shutterstock

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