Does Birth Control Cause Autism? Is It A Fact Or A Myth?

In the 1970s, there was a study that suggested a possible link between birth control pills and autism. The study claimed that the hormonal changes caused by the pills during pregnancy could increase the risk of autism in children.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
May 22, 2024

Does Birth Control Cause Autism? Is It A Fact Or A Myth?

What is Birth Control?

Birth control is a common choice for women around the world. It is an effective method for preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, there has been a long-standing myth that birth control can cause autism. In this blog post, we will explore the truth behind this myth and provide evidence-based information.

The Myth

In the 1970s, there was a study that suggested a possible link between birth control pills and autism. The study claimed that the hormonal changes caused by the pills during pregnancy could increase the risk of autism in children.

However, this study was later found to be flawed and subsequent research has not found any evidence to support this claim. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that birth control causes autism.

The Science

Autism is a complex neurological disorder that has a variety of causes, including genetic and environmental factors. While the exact cause of autism is not yet fully understood, there is a consensus among researchers that birth control is not a risk factor.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2016 found no association between maternal use of hormonal contraception and autism. The study analyzed data from over 45,000 women and their children and found that there was no increased risk of autism among children whose mothers had used hormonal contraception before or during pregnancy.

What is Autism and Its Causes?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. The symptoms of autism can range from mild to severe and can be identified in early childhood.

The exact cause of autism is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Research has shown that certain genes may play a role in the development of autism. Environmental factors such as infections during pregnancy, exposure to toxins, and complications during delivery have also been linked to an increased risk of autism.

There is no known cure for autism, but early intervention and therapy can help children with autism develop important skills and improve their quality of life. There is no evidence linking birth control use to an increased risk of developing autism. The myth that birth control causes autism has been debunked by numerous studies, including one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2016.

The Link Between Birth Control and Autism

As we have established, there is no scientific evidence to support the myth that birth control causes autism. However, it is worth noting that there may be a link between certain medications used to treat epilepsy and an increased risk of autism.

One such medication is valproate, which is used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that children born to mothers who took valproate during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing autism. This risk is associated with the use of valproate specifically, not with birth control in general.

It's also worth mentioning that some women who take birth control pills may experience side effects such as mood changes and depression. While these symptoms are not directly related to autism, they can impact mental health and wellbeing. It's important for women to discuss any potential side effects with their healthcare provider and make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

Why Birth Control is Beneficial?

Birth control is a topic that has been widely discussed for decades. While some people may oppose it for various reasons, there are many benefits to using birth control. Here are some of them:

  • Preventing unintended pregnancies: One of the main benefits of birth control is that it can help prevent unintended pregnancies. This can help people plan their families and have children when they are ready.
  • Regulating menstrual cycles: Many types of birth control can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce menstrual pain and cramping.
  • Treating medical conditions: Some types of birth control can help treat medical conditions like acne, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis.
  • Reducing the risk of certain cancers: Some forms of birth control, such as the pill, have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

These are just a few of the many benefits of birth control. It's important to remember that there are many types of birth control available, and what works for one person may not work for another. Talking to a healthcare provider can help individuals find the right type of birth control for their needs.

Potential Side Effects of Birth Control and How to Manage Them

While birth control is generally safe, it can have potential side effects that vary depending on the type of contraception used. Some women may experience headaches, nausea, mood changes, or weight gain. It's important to talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects you may be experiencing.

Here are some tips for managing potential side effects:

  • If you're experiencing headaches, try taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Nausea can often be managed by taking the pill with food or switching to a different type of birth control.
  • Mood changes and depression can be addressed by talking to your healthcare provider about alternative options or seeking counseling services.
  • Weight gain may occur with certain types of birth control but can often be managed through diet and exercise.

It's essential to remember that every woman's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you're experiencing severe or persistent side effects, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can help you find a method of contraception that works best for you while minimizing any unwanted side effects.

How to Choose the Right Type of Birth Control for Your Lifestyle and Health Needs?

Choosing the right type of birth control can be overwhelming, especially with so many options available. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which method is best for your lifestyle and health needs:

Effectiveness

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a birth control method is effectiveness. Some methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, while others, such as condoms and diaphragms, are less effective.

Hormonal vs. Non-Hormonal

Another factor to consider is whether you want a hormonal or non-hormonal method. Hormonal methods, such as the pill or patch, release hormones into your body that prevent ovulation. Non-hormonal methods, such as condoms or copper IUDs, work by creating a barrier that prevents sperm from reaching an egg.

Convenience

Convenience is another important factor to consider when choosing a birth control method. Some methods require daily use (like the pill), while others can be used for several years without needing replacement (like IUDs).

Side Effects

It's essential to talk to your healthcare provider about any potential side effects associated with each method. Some women may experience mood changes or weight gain with hormonal methods, while others may experience irritation or discomfort with non-hormonal methods like condoms.

Other Health Conditions

If you have certain health conditions like migraines or high blood pressure, some types of birth control may not be recommended for you. It's important to discuss any pre-existing conditions with your healthcare provider before choosing a method.

By considering these factors and talking to your healthcare provider about your options, you can choose the birth control method that best fits your lifestyle and health needs. Remember that it's okay to try different methods until you find one that works best for you.

Autism Treatments and Therapy

While there is no known cure for autism, early intervention and therapy can help individuals with autism improve their quality of life. Here are some common treatments and therapies used for autism:

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ABA is a type of therapy that focuses on improving specific behaviors in individuals with autism. This therapy is based on the principles of behaviorism and uses positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors while discouraging undesired behaviors.

Speech Therapy

Many individuals with autism struggle with communication, so speech therapy can be beneficial in helping them develop language skills. Speech therapists work with individuals to improve their ability to communicate through spoken words or other forms of communication such as sign language or picture exchange communication systems (PECS).

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy can help individuals with autism develop important life skills such as dressing themselves, feeding themselves, and learning how to interact appropriately with others. Occupational therapists work with individuals to develop these skills through activities that are tailored to their individual needs.

Social Skills Training

Social skills training can be beneficial for individuals with autism who struggle with social interaction. This therapy focuses on teaching social cues and appropriate behavior in social situations.

Medications

While there is no medication specifically designed to treat autism, medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or aggression.

Every individual with autism is unique and may respond differently to various treatments and therapies. It's essential for families and healthcare providers to work together to find the best treatment plan for each individual's needs.

What are the Risk Factors of Autism?

While the exact cause of autism is not yet fully understood, research has identified several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing autism. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Research has shown that certain genes may play a role in the development of autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if one identical twin has autism, there is up to a 90% chance that the other twin will also have it.
  • Advanced parental age: Children born to older parents are at an increased risk of developing autism. Studies have shown that fathers over 50 and mothers over 40 have a higher likelihood of having a child with autism.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications: Complications during pregnancy or delivery, such as low birth weight or lack of oxygen to the brain, may increase the risk of developing autism.
  • Exposure to toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins such as lead or pesticides during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing autism.
  • Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and epilepsy are associated with an increased risk of developing autism.

While these risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing autism, they do not necessarily cause it. Autism is a complex disorder with many contributing factors and more research is needed to fully understand its causes.

FAQs

Does birth control cause autism?

No, there is no evidence linking the use of birth control to an increased risk of developing autism. This myth has been debunked by numerous studies.

Can certain medications used for epilepsy increase the risk of autism?

Yes, some medications used to treat epilepsy, such as valproate, have been linked to an increased risk of autism in children born to mothers who took the medication during pregnancy. It's important to discuss any medication use during pregnancy with your healthcare provider.

What are the benefits of using birth control?

There are many benefits to using birth control, including preventing unintended pregnancies, regulating menstrual cycles, treating medical conditions like acne and endometriosis, and reducing the risk of certain cancers.

What are some potential side effects of birth control?

Some women may experience headaches, nausea, mood changes, or weight gain while using birth control. It's important to talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects you may be experiencing.

How do I choose the right type of birth control for me?

When choosing a method of contraception, it's important to consider factors such as effectiveness, hormonal vs. non-hormonal options, convenience, potential side effects, and any pre-existing health conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options and find a method that works best for your lifestyle and needs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the myth that birth control causes autism is not supported by scientific evidence. While the exact cause of autism is not yet fully understood, it is clear that birth control is not a risk factor.

Birth control is an essential tool for women's reproductive health and provides many benefits beyond pregnancy prevention. It is crucial to rely on evidence-based information when making decisions about our health and the health of our children.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987714003521

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00611/full

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25459142/

https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-017-0159-3

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/5/293