Duke Study Sheds Light on Factors Contributing to Autism

Duke Study Sheds Light on Factors Contributing to Autism

August 02, 2013

Simon Gregory, PhD, associate professor in the section of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine at Duke University, is part of a study published August 12, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics that found a connection between induced labor and the incidence of autism.

Gregory is also a principal investigator studying multiple sclerosis with the MURDOCK Study based at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, director of the Duke Epigenetics and Epigenomics Program and the director of the Duke Bioinformatics Workshop, a forum for researchers to gain in-depth experience using publicly available molecular genomics databases.

In the paper Association of Autism With Induced or Augmented Childbirth in North Carolina Birth Record (1990-1998) and Education Research (1997-2007) Databases1, Gregory and colleagues with Duke University, Duke University Medical Center and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, studied over 625,000 birth records in North Carolina between 1990 and 1998. When compared with school records, the findings showed that children whose mother’s labor was “induced and augmented, induced only, or augmented only experienced increased odds of autism.” The effect was particularly evident in boys.

Gregory emphasizes that the study does not mean that doctors should change their labor and delivery practices because there are valid medical reasons to induce labor that are beneficial to mothers and infants. Instead, the study indicates an association not causality between inducing labor and autism and opens up avenues for additional research such as understanding the underlying reasons that require labor to be induced and the effects of drugs like exogenous oxytocin and prostaglandins that are used to induce labor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in 88 children has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Research is uncovering genetic and epigenetic factors that occur pre- and post-natal as contributing factors to the development of autism. This study provides additional information that will help unlock the mystery surrounding the development of autism, its prevention and contribute to better options to treat symptoms and life-long impacts.

Gregory is also well-recognized for his research on multiple sclerosis, neural tube defects, cardiovascular disease, Chiari malformation, Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy and osteoarthritis.

Read more about the study:

 

1Association of Autism With Induced or Augmented Childbirth in North Carolina Birth Record (1990-1998) and Education Research (1997-2007) Databases. JAMA Pediatrics, August 12, 2013. Simon G. Gregory, PhD; Rebecca Anthopolos, MA; Claire E. Osgood, BS; Chad A. Grotegut, MD; Marie Lynn Miranda, PhD. Center for Human Genetics, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC: Duke Institute of Molecular Physiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, Duke University, Durham, NC; Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC: Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, School of Natural Resources and Environment and Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

 

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