Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are multifactorial and complex neurodevelopmental conditions usually diagnosed in the early childhood. The etiology of ASDs is commonly described as a genetic predisposition combined with an environmental impact. As a result of broadening of the diagnostic criteria the prevalence of ASDs has been increasing worldwide and the search for the modifiable factors is still on-going. Epidural analgesia (ELA) provides effective pain relief during labor and is currently the most preferred method of anesthesia during the delivery. The safety of the procedure is well-discussed and documented; nonetheless, in 2020 a single population-based study indicated an association between the use of ELA during labor and newborn risk of ASD development, which led to widespread concern. To explore the possible association between the ELA and ASD occurrence in the offspring several studies in different countries have been conducted to date. In this review we aimed to summarize the current state of knowledge concerning the association between the use of epidural analgesia during labor and risk of ASD. In conclusion, the literature review indicates that there is no significant association.
Weronika Król et al.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health June 2022