Obstetric mode of delivery and child psychological development

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Curran, Eileen A.
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University College Cork
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Background/aims: Objective of the current thesis is to investigate the potential impact of birth by Caesarean section (CS) on child psychological development, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioural difficulties and school performance. Structure/methods: Published literature to date on birth by CS, ASD and ADHD was reviewed (Chapter 2). Data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) were analysed to determine the association between CS and ASD, ADHD and parent-reported behavioural difficulties (Chapter 3). The Swedish National Registers were used to further assess the association with ASD, ADHD and school performance (Chapters 4-6). Results: In the review, children born by CS were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with ASD after controlling for potential confounders. Only two studies reported adjusted estimates on the association between birth by CS and ADHD, results were conflicting and limited. CS was not associated with ASD, ADHD or behavioural difficulties in the UK MCS. In the Swedish National Registers, children born by CS were more likely to be diagnosed with ASD or ADHD. The association with elective CS did not persist when compared amongst siblings. There was little evidence of an association between birth by elective CS and poor school performance. Children born by elective CS had slight reduction in school performance. Conclusions: The lack of association with the elective CS in the sibling design studies indicates that the association in the population is most probably due to confounding. A small but significant association was found between birth by CS and school performance. However, the effect may have been due to residual confounding or confounding by indication and should be interpreted with caution. The overall conclusion is that birth by CS does not appear to have a causal relationship with the aspects of child psychological development investigated.
Autistic spectrum disorder , Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , School performance , Caesarean section , Mode of delivery , Child behaviour
Curran, E. A. 2016. Obstetric mode of delivery and child psychological development. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.