Labor Augmentation Doesn’t Raise Risk of Autism, ADHD

Seizures During Delivery
Seizures During Delivery
Labor augmentation, including induction, has no association with elevated risk of autism or ADHD.

Two new studies have found no link between augmented labor and children who develop neurobehavioral conditions like ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

The first study, from researchers at the Julianne Marie Centre at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, found that of the 25.5% of women who accepted medical augmentation during spontaneous labor, only 0.9% (hazard ratio of 1.05 [95% CI 0.98-1.13]) had children that were later identified to have ADHD.

The results contrast the findings of two previous studies that examined a potential link between use of oxytocin during labor and ADHD in children. The mixed results of the previous studies included a doubled risk of ADHD and a reduced risk of ADHD in girls but not boys for mothers that had their labor augmented by oxytocin.

The large-scale study examined data from 546,146 single births, 139,473 of which received augmentation. ADHD diagnosis was determined by having an ICD-10 diagnostic code or being prescribed at least one ADHD-specific medication.

Although there was no association identified between oxytocin use and ADHD, researchers did find that ADHD occurrence was elevated in certain demographics, including children born to women under age 20 (HR 2.17, 95% CI 1.84-2.55), a gestational age of less than 32 weeks at delivery (HR 1.42, 95% CI 1.12-1.80), and birth weight less than 6.35 pounds (HR 1.27, 95% CI 1.11-1.46).

In a separate study, researchers from the University of Utah Health Sciences and Intermountain Healthcare found no link between induced or augmented labor and risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The researchers compared data from 2,547 children with ASD and 166,283 children without ASD from births that occurred between 1998 and 2006. Children whose mothers had their labor induced or augmented did not have an increased risk of ASD after adjusting for several factors, including socioeconomic status, maternal health, pregnancy-related events and conditions, gender, and year of birth.

Both studies should reassure physicians and patients that labor augmentation is a safe and sometimes necessary event to minimize risk to the mother and baby and is not associated with increased risk of ADHD of ASD.


  1. Henriksen L et al. Pediatrics. 2015; doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1542.
  2. News release: Inducing or augmenting labor not associated with autism. Available here: