A new study has found that having a Caesarean section does not increase the likelihood of a child being on the autistic spectrum.
UK experts have welcomed the study and said it was ‘robust’ and important’. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Professor Andrew Whitelaw from the University of Bristol said that along with other research, the Irish study provided ‘good evidence that Caesarean section does not causes ASD’.
The latest report contradicts previous research which established a statistical link between Caesarean births and autism.
The new study, which was published in JAMA psychiatry, a medical journal, found instead that babies with autism are more likely to be delivered by c-section because of genetic or environmental reasons.
Dr Ali Khashan, the study’s lead researcher, said that as their findings revealed no association between C-sections and autism in the sibling control analysis, they concluded there was no ‘causal association’.
“It is more likely that birth by Caesarean section is related to some unknown genetic or environmental factor that leads to increased risk of both Caesarean section and autism spectrum disorder,” he said.
Researchers at the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research in Cork analysed existing data which suggested children who were delivered by Caesarian were 21% more likely to end up being diagnosed with autism. The new study of the data delved further into the children’s backgrounds to see whether they had siblings who were also autistic, as there is thought to be a strong genetic link.
As the researchers analysed the data based on the siblings, they were able to estimate the genetic factor, and once they had calculated that, re-evaluate the C-section link.