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IAN Launches Survey on Pregnancy and Birth Factors in ASD

Date Published: 
April 20, 2011

The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) is launching a major survey on the pregnancy and birth experiences of mothers with children on the autism spectrum. The results will permit researchers to explore a vast number of potential pregnancy- and birth-related factors in autism.

Outline in black and white of mother holding up a babyIt is very common for a woman who receives an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis for her child to begin to agonize about what may have caused the condition, and to focus especially on her pregnancy or the child’s birth. “Was it that medication I took? That fish I ate? Those ultrasounds I had? That Pitocin they administered?” Mothers often torture themselves, wondering if something that happened during their pregnancy or their child’s birth was to blame for a child’s ASD.

In most cases, the answer to such questions is very likely “no.” Still, researchers are exploring a variety of possible pregnancy and birth factors that might be associated with ASDs. For the peace of mind of so many parents, it’s important to find out not only if any of these factors is linked to ASDs, but also which of them are not.

IAN is therefore launching a national survey on pregnancy- and birth-related factors and autism that will help researchers exploring associations between a specific factor and ASD.

The Pregnancy and Birth Questionnaire, which was developed with researchers who are interested in potential links between prenatal, perinatal, or neonatal factors and ASD, contains questions on a vast array of topics, including use of fertility treatments, pregnancy complications, illness or infection during pregnancy, medications taken during pregnancy, number of ultrasounds, induction of labor, and birth complications.

Who Can Participate?

To complete the Pregnancy and Birth Questionnaire, you must:

  • Be enrolled in the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Research project
    Register here.
  • Be the mother of a child with an ASD who is between the ages of 0-17
  • Have been pregnant with this child
    (Since there are so many questions about pregnancy, it is the “pregnant” mom rather than the “egg-providing” mom that we are asking to complete the survey when the two are not one and the same.)
  • Live in the United States

The Pregnancy and Birth Questionnaire will appear in your IAN Research Family Profile under the names of your children, both affected and unaffected. Comparisons between children with ASD and typical siblings are crucial in order to identify risk factors, so please complete the survey for all your children under the age of 18, whether or not they have an ASD. For example, if researchers found that 25% of children with ASD had neonatal jaundice, it would mean nothing unless they could also show that unaffected siblings had neonatal jaundice far less often.

If you are eligible, we hope you will participate, and thank you for the gift of your time and energy. If you are not eligible, we hope you will spread the word about this important opportunity to participate in vital autism research.

If you have any questions, please contact the IAN Research team at 866-348-3440 or ian@kennedykrieger.org. We are here to help.

Additional Resources

Read our IAN Community article on past research on this topic: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Pregnancy and Birth Factors.

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