I posted the excerpt below on my Healing and Preventing Autism Naturally Group but thought you all might enjoy this article too!
If it is already posted somewhere else on here, just let me know and I'll delete it :)
"My interest in autism started in 1982, when I met Niko Tinbergen, one of the founders of ethology, who shared the Nobel prize with Konrad Lorenz and Karl Von Frisch in 1973. As an ethologist familiar with the observation of animal behaviour, he studied in particular the non-verbal behaviour of autistic children. As a "field ethologist" he studied the children in their home environment. Not only could he offer detailed descriptions of his observations, but at the same time he listed factors which predispose to autism or which can exaggerate the symptoms(12).
He found such factors evident in the period surrounding birth: induction of labour, "deep forceps" delivery, birth under anaesthesia, and resuscitation at birth. Interestingly this pioneer introduced the variable ‘labour induction’. When I met him he was exploring possible links between difficulty in establishing eye-to-eye contact among autistic children and the absence of eye-to-eye contact between mother and baby at birth. The work of Tinbergen (and his wife) represents the first attempt to explore autism from a "primal health research" perspective.
It is probably because I met Niko Tinbergen that I read with special attention, in June 1991, a report by Ryoko Hattori, a psychiatrist from Kumamoto, Japan.(13) She evaluated the risks of becoming autistic according to the place of birth. She found that children born in a certain hospital were significantly more at risk of becoming autistic. In that particular hospital the routine was to induce labour a week before the expected date of birth and to use a complex mixture of sedatives, anaesthesia agents and analgesics during labour. This study could not dissociate the effects of labour induction and the effects of drugs used during labour.
We had to wait until 2002 for a large-scale study to be published in the medical literature.(14) The researchers had at their disposal the recorded data from the Swedish nationwide Birth Register regarding all Swedish children born during a period of 20 years (from 1974 until1993). They also had at their disposal data regarding 408 children (321 boys and 87 girls) diagnosed as autistic after being discharged from a hospital from 1987 through 1994 (diagnosis according to strict criteria). For each case five matched controls were selected, resulting in a control sample of 2040 infants. The risk of autism was significantly associated with caesarean delivery, a 5-minute Apgar score below 7 (in other words: baby not in good shape at birth), maternal birth outside Europe and North America, bleeding in pregnancy, daily smoking in early pregnancy, being small for gestational age, and congenital malformations. Unfortunately the authors could not dissociate scheduled caesareans and caesareans during labour. Also, the variable ‘labour induction’ could not be taken into account, because it did not appear in the National Birth Register until 1991, as I learnt from personal correspondence with one of the authors."