A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Spring, 2019 | Number 2, Volume 33

General anesthesia during C-sections may increase ASD risk

A study by researchers in Israel suggests that the increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) seen in children delivered by Cesarean section is due not to the procedure itself, but rather to exposure to general anesthesia. 

Maayan Huberman Samuel and colleagues examined the birth records of 347 children with ASD, 117 children with other developmental delays, and 2,226 matched neurotypical controls. The researchers found a significant link between C-sections and increased risk for ASD, but only for children whose mothers received general anesthesia. Study coauthor Idan Menashe comments, “C-sections performed with other types of anesthesia such as epidural or spinal sedation are relatively safe.” (C-section delivery with or without general anesthesia did not increase the risk of developmental delay.)

The researchers also compared planned C-sections to unplanned procedures performed due to birth complications, and detected no significant difference in ASD risk between the two.


“Exposure to general anesthesia may contribute to the association between Cesarean delivery and autism spectrum disorders,” Maayan Huber-man Samuel, Gal Meiri, Ilan Dinstein, HagitFlusser, Analiya Michaelovski, Asher Bashiri, and Idan Menashe, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, May 3, 2019 (online). Address: Idan Menashe, Public Health Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel,[email protected].


“Israel study links autism to general anesthesia in C-sections,” Times of Israel, May 3, 2019.